LAWRENCE COUNTY Hearing to debate abolishing tax breaks

The tax break program has been in effect for 20 years.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County commissioners are considering abolishing the county's commercial/industrial tax abatement program and have scheduled a public hearing on the matter at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The hearing will be in the commissioners' meeting room at the courthouse, and commissioners said they are hoping to take comments from prospective business and industrial owners.
For the past several weeks, commissioners have been discussing whether they should eliminate or modify the tax-break program for property taxes.
Following protocol
They had planned to abolish the program last month but, after conferring with county solicitor John Hodge, realized they would need to follow proper protocol and conduct a public hearing before acting to repeal the resolution that governs the program. A previous board held a public hearing before the measure was passed 20 years ago.
Commissioners also have asked Hodge to determine whether instituting a scaled-down tax abatement program is legal.
To abolish the tax exemption program, commissioners would need to repeal the resolution, which provides a three-year, 100-percent property tax abatement on new commercial or industrial construction. Residential construction was excluded from the program in 1996.
Under a modified or partial tax exemption plan, a property owner would have to pay a percentage of taxes each of the first three years, then full taxes the fourth year and thereafter. Commissioners have said they feel the tax break program is no longer needed, and the county may be missing out on needed tax money from new development.
They said if the program were abolished, they would still consider allowing tax abatements on a case-by-case basis.

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