Development tax incentive renewed with some changes

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

The Greencastle-Antrim School Board recently voted to continue a property tax incentive to encourage growth and development.

The enrollment period for the current Local Economic Revitalization Tax Abatement is set to end in August and the board had been discussing the next step for months. At one meeting, developers talked about how lack of a LERTA would have job-creating businesses looking elsewhere.

The action May 2 continues to offer tax breaks to developers in certain parts of the township, but with a shorter application period and different payment schedule. In addition, developers who take advantage of LERTA must agree not to appeal their tax assessment within five years after their tax break ends.

The existing LERTA was put in place in 2012 to encourage economic development near the end of the recession and compete with incentives offered by Maryland and West Virginia. Under it, the developer pays no taxes on a property the first year, 10 percent the second and so on, in 10 percent increments for a total of 10 years.

Under the new version LERTA enrollment is extended for three years and the property tax payment will be 5 percent the first year, 15 the second, 25 the third, 35 the fourth, 45 the fifth, 55 the sixth, 65 the seventh, 75 the eighth and 85 the ninth, with the business paying 100 percent by the 10th year.

The motion was approved 7-2, with Scott Hart and Paul Politis voting "no."

Hart said he believes the LERTA served its purpose, sites are ready, the area has a good reputation and development is going to continue.

"Are we going to raise taxes on our residents and give businesses a tax break?" asked Hart.

Board President Mike Still said LERTA is a long-time approach to development.