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LERTA approval pending WCSD ratification

A residential tax abatement initiative has one final hurdle to clear after the county commissioners approved the ordinance on Wednesday.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston noted the ordinance has been up for public review on the county website for a couple months.

“All of the townships and municipalities that are expected to sign ordinances in the next couple weeks are listed,” Eggleston said.

He explained that the county’s ordinance – which was approved unanimously – will then go to the school board, who will have “to pass their own resolution that would ratify all of the ordinances.”

Eggleston said the ordinance is written to indicate that it won’t take effect without the school district’s subsequent approval.

The LERTA — Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance — program would encourage development in the county by making improvements to eligible properties tax free for five years.

The proposal applies to both commercial and residential properties while the original property taxes would not change.

Municipalities looking to move the program forward are Conewango Township, Glade Township, Limestone Township, Pleasant Township, Pine Grove Township, Watson Township, Sheffield Township, Elk Township, the City of Warren, Clarendon Borough, Tidioute Borough, and Youngsville Borough.

Eggleston said on Monday that Sheffield and Watson townships have yet to approve an ordinance.

“They are going to within the next few weeks,” he said.

He called this initiative “probably the most comprehensive tax abatement program (in Pennsylvania) outside of Philadelphia and Allegheny County.

The program was vetted at two different public hearings, the second of which was held earlier this month.

“All of these municipalities have joined voluntarily,” Eggleston said at the second public. “They have done so because they believe in this process.

“I know there’s a county-wide concern with this concept,” he said. “Even with these 12 municipalities, this is going to be the most comprehensive tax abatement possibly in the state.”

Eggleston said that most of the communities in Pennsylvania that participate in such a tax abatement program are urban areas. He’s not aware of rural communities, like Warren, that have adopted such a program.

“If passed, it will be a really big carrot for people to come to Warren County,” said Eggleston.

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