County approves tax abatement applications; officials question consistency
The York County Commissioners approved LERTA applications for six properties Wednesday, even as some officials called for a more consistent interpretation of the tax-abatement program among the county, municipalities and school districts.
LERTA, which stands for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Act, provides a property tax exemption schedule for up to 10 years, with savings realized on a sliding scale beginning with 100 percent in year one and decreasing 10 percent annually.
The abatement is offered to encourage development and improvements in deteriorated areas, according to the York County Economic Alliance.
County solicitor Glenn Smith noted that the abatement is only on the improved value added to a property. For example, if a property is originally assessed at $10,000 and improvements lead to a new assessment of $100,000, the tax abatement would apply to the $90,000 in improved value.
The commissioners approved abatement applications from Bond Development Group; Dyed Red Holdings LLC; Monarch Mills LLC; and Queen Pauline LP.
Bond Development's properties included the The Bond building, at 100-110 S. Queen St. in York City, and its parking lot. The combined improvements added about $460,000 in increased value, according to Rachael Perring, the county's director of assessment.
Dyed Red Holdings' property is at 54-56 S. Duke St. in York City, with about $130,000 in added value, according to Smith.
Monarch Mills' properties, owned by Yohn Property Management, were two different suites at 600 N. Hartley St. in York City with about $283,000 in combined value added, Perring said.
LERTA applications were previously approved for each of those properties by York City and York City School District.
Queen Pauline's property, originally owned by Springwood Hospitality, is at 108 Pauline Drive in York Township and encompasses the building that houses IHOP and MOD Pizza.
York Township and the Dallastown Area School District had previously approved LERTA applications for the property.
LERTA discrepancies: While David Yohn, of Yohn Properties, was discussing Monarch Mills' applications, Smith revealed that the county has been discussing its LERTA process with the York County Economic Alliance in an effort to garner a more consistent interpretation by the county, municipalities and school districts.
Perring stated developers are required under the county ordinance to submit LERTA applications once they obtain building permits for properties.
Yohn countered that York City officials had told him to wait on the LERTA applications until a reassessment is completed because the ordinance states that challenges to the reassessed value will result in that property's immediate removal from the abatement benefits.
The discrepancy between the municipalities, school districts and the county on the ordinance came up again last August, when Hillwood Development submitted a LERTA application to the county for its East Manchester Township warehouse, which Starbucks had leased to expand its distribution operations.
East Manchester Township and Northeastern School District had already approved LERTA applications for the property at 1605 Bartlett Drive, but a county spokesman had said the application didn't meet its requirements because the property was previously farmland, not in a deteriorated area.
East Manchester Township's ordinance had stated that all properties within an industrial zone are eligible for LERTA.
Smith noted that the county's ordinance is consistent with the state's LERTA ordinance, and county officials would like to see as many municipalities and school districts as possible get on the same page with the program.
Yohn noted that his company planned to submit 40 more LERTA applications next week for its condos at One Market West, located at the intersection of West Market Street and North George Street in York City.