Tax abatement among topics at joint meeting

Shawn Hardy

Greencastle Borough Council, the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors and the Greencastle-Antrim School Board will hold a joint meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in the cafeteria at Greencastle-Antrim High School.

The meeting is to discuss areas of mutual concern and one topic will be LERTA or Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, which was briefly discussed at last week's Greencastle-Antrim School Board meeting.

Dr. Jolinda "JC" Wilson, chief financial officer, explained a LERTA is a way to temporarily exempt businesses from property taxes to address blight and promote economic development.

Locally, the school district entered into a LERTA agreement with Antrim Township in August 2012, and entities had seven years to seek enrollment.

To date, five businesses — all located in the area of U.S. 11 between Exit 3 of Interstate 81 and the Borough of Greencastle — have received tax breaks through LERTA. Total abatement over a 10-year period is estimated at $2.2 million. The LERTA includes a 100 percent tax cut the first year, declining in increments in ensuing years.

Matrix (World Kitchen) and Gate 7, manufacturer of decals for industrial equipment, joined several years ago and Blaise Alexander, Eldorado Stone and NorthPoint Development have entered the LERTA in recent years, Wilson said.

School board member Mike Still noted the economy was down at the time the LERTA was introduced and discussion started when World Kitchen was looking to expand. He noted Mike Ross, president of Franklin County Area Development Corp., presented LERTA as a way to compete with economic development offers made by Maryland and West Virginia.

Tracy Baer, board president, wondered if growth started because of LERTA, would the growth have occurred without LERTA and will growth stop if LERTA ends. In addition, she asked if the district can take the influx of students if growth continues.

"I'm sure the township will have more information at the joint meeting," Baer said.