More big-ticket assessment reductions granted in Luzerne County

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - jandes@timesleader.com
The Luzerne County Courthouse -

Luzerne County must refund UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. a combined $129,161 in real estate taxes from 2012 through 2017 due to an assessment reduction, according to a newly released April refund report.

The assessment on the company’s 16.43-acre complex on East Northampton Street in Wilkes-Barre was reduced from $8.89 million to $5 million through a court-level mediation settlement.

Refunds date back to the year challenges were filed, leading to some multiyear payments that have strained past county budgets.

The county has budgeted $550,000 for refunds in 2018, which is the same as the amount the prior two years.

Under its original assessment, UGI paid $155,129 in real estate taxes to the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and $53,141 to the county. Wilkes-Barre taxes are handled separately because the city has its own assessments.

With the new assessment, UGI pays $87,217 in school taxes, or $67,912 less, based on current tax rates. The company’s county tax bill will be $29,877, or a reduction of $23,264.

Other reductions

Three other big-ticket commercial assessment reductions have been awarded since February, according to tax refund reports posted by the manager at www.luzernecounty.org.

The assessment of Keystone Automotive Operations Inc.’s warehouse and office on Slocum Street in Exeter was lowered from $11.45 million to $6.385 million.

The business is on 20.95 acres. The county refunded the company $69,872 in overpayments from 2015 through 2017.

This $5.06 million assessment reduction equates to an annual revenue loss of $9,164 for the borough, $80,780 for the Wyoming Area School District and $30,288 for the county, analysis shows.

The company will pay a combined $151,466 in real estate taxes to the three taxing bodies with the decrease.

In Hazle Township, Inland Container Corp.’s plant on 15.21 acres on Forest Road in the Humboldt Industrial Park is now assessed at $3.95 million instead of $3.1 million.

The county paid the company a $14,550 refund from 2015 through 2017.

Multiple cabin structures on 6.32 acres on Route 315 in Plains Township owned by Mitch, Ross and Eric Kornfeld also were reduced, from an assessment of $995,000 to a new $675,000.

The county refund was $8,742.16 from 2012 through 2016 for this parcel.

County officials have been pushing for resolution of outstanding assessment challenges, particularly with larger commercial sites, to minimize the hit to government finances.

County Manager C. David Pedri has said the county may reach its $550,000 budget allocation for refunds this year as the remaining backlog is cleared.

The Luzerne County Courthouse
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_luzcocourthouse01-2.jpgThe Luzerne County Courthouse

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

jandes@timesleader.com

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.