Groups approve tax break boundaries

TYRONE – Companies in the Tyrone Industrial Park could receive a five-year break on property taxes for improvements made under a proposal approved by several taxing bodies on Wednesday.

Property owned by Albemarle Corp., Chicago Rivet & Machine Co., Gardners Candies and Dixon Tool & Die Co. Inc. would be part of a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance zone, which is designed to encourage economic development by providing temporary tax breaks.

Representatives of Tyrone Area school board, Snyder Township supervisors and Blair County commissioners voted for the LERTA zone at a public hearing on Wednesday. A quorum of each group had to be present and vote affirmatively.

Because Tyrone Borough Council didn’t have a quorum present, it will have to vote at a separate hearing before its scheduled March 11 meeting.

The state LERTA program allows local taxing authorities to temporarily exempt businesses’ improvement projects from property taxes for up to 10 years. In this case, the breaks will only last for five years, Altoona-Blair County Development Corp. President and CEO Martin J. Marasco said.

He emphasized that businesses in the LERTA district will continue paying their current real estate taxes. “This only applies to an abatement on [new projects],” he said.

Under the abatement, the businesses will pay zero property taxes on improvements the first year, increasing incrementally until, by the sixth year, they’re paying taxes for all of the improvements.

Patrick Miller, ABCD Corp. executive vice president, told representatives the industrial park meets the criteria for LERTA because it includes parcels of underutilized or vacant land.

Miller and Marasco said while they originally planned to focus on Albemarle Corp.’s $30 million expansion announced last month, other projects in the industrial park have been announced or discussed.

Gardners Candies announced a manufacturing facility expansion Feb. 27, and Marasco said Bill Dixon of Dixon Tool & Die, along with JMD Company directors – whose business is located on Dixon’s property – have been in talks with a Pittsburgh company about adding a facility on the third portion of Dixon’s property, which currently is vacant land.

Miller said it makes sense for the LERTA to be associated with all four properties because if plans moved forward only for Albemarle Corp., there’s a good chance the other companies would too.

“We do know additional economic activity is going to occur within that park, and it is our opinion that if we would move forward with a single-purpose LERTA … we would be doing this over and over and over again,” Miller said.

Because Chicago Rivet’s owners have not announced expansion plans, there’s no benefit to them unless they want to make improvements within the next five years, Marasco said.

Miller said while there is a termination date for the LERTA zone, “if any of the companies would pull a permit before the actual termination date, they would be entitled to their five-year LERTA.”

“Their clock would begin to tick when their building permit was pulled and stamped,” he said.

Now that the boundaries have been approved, each taxing body must vote separately, either through an ordinance or resolution, to adopt LERTA as a whole.

Although a portion of Albemarle Corp.’s property stands in Snyder Township, all of its taxes go to Tyrone Borough.

So, while supervisors Robert Nelson and board President Charles Diehl were required to, and so voted, to adopt LERTA’s boundaries, Diehl added that the taxes in Snyder Township will not be affected.

Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520.