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Pike commissioners adopt tax abatement program

By Guy Charles Harriton
May 8, 2013

With the unemployment rate spiking to a hefty 12.1% nationwide, the Pike County Commissioners took a step that could help the county alleviate unemployment by voting to adopt a tax incentive program to help attract businesses to the county. The action was taken at the commissioners’ meeting on April 30.

Mike Sullivan, the director of the Pike County Economic Development Authority, gave a presentation about the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA).

Sullivan explained to the commissioners that he had been “traveling around to all the townships” and developing a program similar to one adopted by municipalities in New York State, and making it “specific” to Pennsylvania in general and Pike County specifically, “so that people will have an equal footing with those on the other side of the Delaware River.”

Sullivan said the Pike County Commissioners were “the first people to take a look at the competitor’s situation,” referring to New York State. “We have a more modest proposal as compared with New York State, but we think the combination of lower taxes and this modest proposal is equally as valid.”

Sullivan said in the first year of the program, new businesses in the county would have a 90% tax abatement on real estate taxes, the second year would be 80%, year three would be 60%, then 40% and finally 20%.

Commissioner Richard A. Caridi pointed out that existing businesses that expanded would share similar numbers. “This is just another tool to bring business into the Pike County area,” he said, adding that in order for the sputtering economy to forge ahead the tax abatement program would provide “an incentive to encourage investment in Pike County.”

The commissioners all agreed that without LERTA, businesses that expanded would see hefty tax increases.

Commissioner Matthew M. Osterberg explained the “deteriorated areas” referred to in the Lerta language. He said, “Deteriorated areas make you think of distressed areas, but when you read the LERTA statement, deteriorated areas can include those with a high rate of unemployment.”

In the case of Pike County, said Osterberg, there really aren’t any distressed areas and bringing jobs to the area is the main thrust of adopting the program.

Sullivan said to the commissioners, “I want to thank the three of you [Caridi, Osterberg and Karl A. Wagner Jr.] for developing a program that fits nicely with the needs of Pike County.”