(Sentinel, The (Carlisle, PA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 18--Hand them the LERTA and they will come.
The Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance proposal is one of the key cards municipalities can play to lure big business into their neck of the woods.
That's what economic development officials are hoping for in the case of a proposed Georgia-Pacific regional distribution center located at Prologis Park on Walnut Bottom Road just outside of Shippensburg.
Be these tax breaks seem to flow against one of the main reasons supporters of the warehouse industry in Cumberland County touted in the three-day series The Sentinel published May 31 to June 2: tax money for area school districts and their residents.
The Shippensburg Area School District board of directors Monday night voted against a seven-year LERTA proposal from Georgia-Pacific that asked the district for a 100 percent abatement in the first year and subsequent 10 percent decreases in that percentage for the following six years.
The proposed center would create 50 to 60 full-time jobs.
In The Sentinel series "Blight or Boom?" officials from Goodman Birtcher and the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp. listed local property tax money as one of the key benefits a proposed warehouse from Goodman Birtcher would bring to the Carlisle area, a debate that has no direct ties to the Georgia-Pacific proposal.
Shawn J. Farr, director of finance at Carlisle Area School District, said the taxable assessed value of real estate in the district is a little more than $3 billion. Of that, 11 percent, or about $350 million, comes from warehouses and distribution centers.
That money is vital to school districts fighting state-funding and budget concerns now. That tax money is why these locations even consider adding a 1.5-million-square-foot structure that will draw more truck traffic and eat up more open space. And what happens in seven years should Georgia-Pacific decide to try out a new location?
Although it supported a LERTA, the school district board voted against the proposal because of the 100 percent abatement in the first year.
"Why 100 percent the first year?" school director Thomas Enderlein asked. "We're looking for money (now)."
That's the key here for any school district that relies heavily on property taxes to build budgets -- the school board made the right choice to say no for now and find a better proposal that works for the school district short term and long term.
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