York City RDA pays off Penn Market's $23K tax debts
After taking over the deed to Penn Market in June, the York City Redevelopment Authority has settled the market’s debts to put the market back on the path to future success.
During a news conference in early July, York City officials pledged a multiyear, multimillion-dollar commitment to turn around the once-iconic market at Penn and Market streets, but soon after, their plans hit several stumbling blocks in the form of back taxes.
Two weeks after the news conference, the York City Council forgave more than $15,000 in taxes owed to the city, but the York City school board and York County commissioners were not as quick to write off the market’s debts.
In August, RDA Chairman Michael Black and city solicitor Don Hoyt asked the school board to forgive more than $18,000 in back taxes that the market owes to the district.
Pointing to the market's debts, which also included more than $5,000 in overdue taxes owed to York County, Black and Hoyt told the school board the market might go to a county tax sale if the debts weren't forgiven.
The board voted unanimously against forgiving the market's back taxes.
The property's outstanding debts put it at risk of being auctioned at an Oct. 2 tax sale, but York County's three commissioners unanimously decided Sept. 6 to approve a stay on the sale of Penn Market, York County spokesman Mark Walters said.
Shilvosky Buffaloe, acting director of the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development, under which the RDA operates, said Tuesday, Oct. 17, that the RDA now owns the market outright after writing checks to the school district and county to pay off the market’s back taxes.
At the beginning of each year, tax collectors turn over their tax files for delinquent properties to the York County Tax Claim Bureau, which processes the claims and lists properties for auction, generally held in September or October, Walters said.
Walters said 2,700 property files were turned over to the bureau at the beginning of 2017, but only 232 were up for auction at the Oct. 2 county tax sale.
Owners of the other 2,500 properties either paid off their taxes, like the RDA, or set up payment plans, Walters said.
'Woefully outdated': The RDA is continuing to work with The Food Trust, based in Philadelphia, to investigate the market to determine its challenges and problem areas and to identify potential opportunities for improvement, Buffaloe said.
The Redevelopment Authority took ownership of Penn Market in June after the previous owners struggled to make necessary improvements to the building’s infrastructure.
When the authority temporarily took over Penn Market’s lease in October 2016, officials pinpointed several problem areas, including the building's exterior, windows, doors, bathrooms, fire-suppression systems and plumbing.
Officials plan to spend $2.5 million to $3 million to upgrade the “woefully outdated” market, Buffaloe said in July.