Eggleston presents LERTA to WCSD

If Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance is going to fly in Warren County, it’s probably going to need to include Warren County School District.

Warren County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston spoke before the district’s finance committee Monday night, asking that the board come out in favor of his LERTA proposal.

The school board expressed interest in the idea, but did not go so far as to endorse it.

Under a LERTA, taxing bodies would defer the new taxes that would apply to properties that undergo significant improvements. Typically, a certain level of development calls for a reassessment of the property for property tax purposes. With a LERTA in place, the old tax level would apply for a number of years — Eggleston talked about successful 10-year LERTAs in other parts of the state.

“Right now we have no growth,” he said. “We need to do something now. We need to be bold. We need growth and we need it now.”

The taxing bodies would see less impact from new development in the short run, he said. But, they might see development in the form of people or businesses opening in their areas — looking for the LERTA benefits.

“The school district is the largest taxing body out of the pool,” Eggleston said. “From my perspective, it has to be unified. In order to incentivize, the school district has to be a part of it.”

“The City of Warren has expressed a great interest in this,” he said. “If all three (taxing bodies — the county, the district, and the municipality) are together, that’s a major incentive for somebody to develop a property.”

City Council member Phil Gilbert attended the meeting in support of the idea, though he did state he did not knowingly represent a quorum of the group.

Glade Township Supervisor Joe Scully said all three supervisors there approve and are prepared to move forward with a LERTA. “I’ve talked to a few townships and there are more townships interested in this than not. Glade? We are in 100 percent,” he said. But, “without the school board in the game, it’s not going to fly.”

Board member Arthur Stewart suggested that the group allow the municipalities make the next move — that “getting ahead of the municipalities” would be acting as “a bad neighbor.”

“I have no need for this to be done immediately,” Eggleston said.

He said the earliest it could be implemented is likely Jan. 1, 2020.

Eggleston said he would work with the Intergovernmental Council (COG) to set up a meeting with the LERTA as a focus and invite the board to participate.

Scully pointed out that the district is welcome at all COG meetings.