Property tax discounts for new construction, improvements coming to Harrisburg

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jun 1, 2016 6:37 PM

Photo by kev72/flickr

(Harrisburg) -- People who want to renovate or improve their property or building in the city of Harrisburg will get a tax break for the next decade.

Dauphin County Commissioners approved the plan in a quick 3-0 vote.

Harrisburg City Council and the school district's board have already signed off on it.

Improvements to residential buildings in the city won't be taxed at all for the next decade.

Commercial building renovations are also set for at least a 50 percent discount.

Commissioner George Hartwick says he supports the city's effort - and knows developers are thinking about making moves in Harrisburg.

"They'll run the numbers, they'll take a lot at what the benefit and the cost may be to make that level of investment within the city limits. And this is one level of an incentive program that may be the triggering factor that may cause somebody to develop versus not develop within the city limits," says Hartwick.

Adds Hartwick: "Both the city of Harrisburg and other communities are still facing a significant challenge with the loss of revenue, which might happen through the whole Biggert Waters Act, being next to flood zones. So anything that can enhance those taxable revenues, increase the quality of life, increase the level of jobs and investment into the city I think would be a victory."

Hartwick says if the city is in good shape, the region is in good shape.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has pushed for the tax abatement program since taking office, arguing many properties sit vacant because any changes will bring higher taxes.

He notes for the city to survive, it must increase its taxpayers in the city, and the abatement will help bring more people to Harrisburg.

The program stems from a state law, often known as LERTA, or Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance.

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