County sets date for LERTA hearing

County officials have set the date for a public hearing aimed at moving forward a proposal for residential tax abatement.

The gist of the program is this: Property owners wishing to redevelop an eligible property will have their taxes held flat for a period of time.

Such redevelopment would typically trigger a re-assessment and, correspondingly, a higher tax bill.

Commissioner Jeff Eggleston, who has championed the initiative, said that the program is “finally at a point” where those involved are “able to move forward as a group.”

The commissioners set a date – August 28th at noon – for a public hearing on the proposal.

Eggleston said that a total of ten municipalities have agreed to join – Glade, Limestone, Pleasant, Sheffield, Conewango and Cherry Grove townships; Clarendon, Tidioute and Youngsville boroughs and the City of Warren.

He noted those municipalities “represents a bulk of the population” and said he would continue to “try to convince” additional rural townships to join and emphasize that it is a “tool in the toolbox.”

Eggleston said that each of the municipalities that have signed on have agreed to a five year, 100 percent abatement for both commercial and residential development.

Eggleston said there are “still some townships interested in coming on board” and suggested additional will be added in the future.

He said a proposed ordinance has been circulated to the rest of the board and the county’s solicitor.

A draft of that ordinance notes that the commissioners believe the program “will have a positive impact upon the development and redevelopment” of properties within the county and indicates that the abatement will apply to both improvements to deteriorated property and new residential construction.

An application procedure is outlined which will require property owners seeking abatement to submit an application to their municipality at the time when a building permit is obtained. That application will be sent to the county Board of Assessment Appeals for consideration.