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Shohola to hold public hearing; Tax abatement law considered

January 2, 2013

Shohola Township supervisors have approved advertising a public hearing for a proposed local tax abatement law.

“The law could give Shohola a fighting chance to compete for businesses that are seeking to locate in the Tri-State area, and specifically in Shohola, by giving such companies a tax break,” said Michael Sullivan, director of the Pike County Economic Development Authority (EDA).

The hearing will be held at the beginning of the township council meeting on February 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Township solicitor Jason Ohliger explained that Pennsylvania enabling legislation for abatements is covered in the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA).

Ohliger said that EDA’s proposal is justified under LERTA legislation because of Shohola’s high unemployment, over nine percent, among the highest in Pennsylvania. LERTA was created to aid communities with high unemployment.

The question facing Shohola supervisors is whether to include the whole town as a LERTA zone or to narrow the zone down to Route 6 and Route 434 commercial zones, the most active commercial areas.

Ohliger noted that a few other areas zoned for commercial development, such as the Walker Lake area on Twin Lakes Road, could also be included. Ohliger advised further that after advertising the hearing, supervisors should ask the township planning commission to review, prior to the hearing, the EDA’s proposal. The commission could then recommend whether the entire township or specific commercial corridors should be included. Supervisors approved referring the matter to the planning commission.

At a previous meeting, Sullivan said that the township needs to provide a five-year tax abatement as an incentive for companies that would provide jobs in Shohola. He noted that New York State and New Jersey provide up to 20-year incentives.

If adopted, Shohola would lose no tax revenue on existing business property as the exemptions would apply only to new businesses or to the expansion of existing businesses.