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Delaware Valley school approves abatement

By Kevin Kearney
May 15, 2013

The Delaware Valley School District and Pike County commissioners have voted to support Shohola Township’s real-estate tax abatement program. As reported in our May 9 issue, the commissioners had already approved the program, the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) plan for the entire county. However, in order to go into effect in any given locality, the plan must also be approved by the township in question and the affected school district. This has now happened in Shohola.

“It’s a big deal because all municipal components are getting involved,” said Aaron Robinson, a member of the township planning commission, at the May 9 supervisors’ meeting. He added, “It’s a program that revolves around opportunity, and we hope opportunity comes our way.”

The plan provides tax abatement for industrial and commercial improvements on properties within the township, regardless of the zoning district in which they are situated, phased out over five years. The amount of the abatement is based on the difference in assessed value before and after improvements.

Supervisor George Fluhr said the aim of the tax abatement is to attract businesses to the township without having to worry about hefty tax increases. More businesses would mean more people working, he said. “It’s a smart thing to do,” he said of the tax abatement.

Other municipalities are following Shohola’s lead, including Blooming Grove Township, which is looking into the tax abatement program using Shohola’s model. “A lot of townships are taking advantage of it to draw business into the area,” Blooming Grove solicitor Shelli L. Whitmer said at the township’s May 6 meeting. “I think it’s a great program.”

The township plans to get more versed in the issue and then further discuss it at the June meeting.

Supervisor Chairman Randy Schmalzle said the abatement would not only be advantageous for new businesses, but also for established businesses looking to expand. “It will help bring some jobs to our area, which we definitely need,” he said.

The supervisors said they will send a letter of thanks to the district and county.