HOLLIDAYSBURG – Blair County’s commissioners cast a series of votes, including split votes, Tuesday to respond to property tax exemption requests tabled by three local communities.
Just because a municipality purchases property doesn’t mean the property is automatically exempt from property tax, lawyer Nathan Karn said Tuesday after commissioners closed the vote.
“Only the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gets an automatic exemption … because that’s the law.” said Karn.
If municipalities and school districts acquire land, they should immediately try to apply to the district for exemption from property tax.
These requests, like all tax exemption requests, would then be examined on a case-by-case basis, with decisions usually related to the use of the property.
In responding to recent relief requests from the City of Altoona, Altoona Area School District, and the Borough of Newry, the county found that all three parishes acquired land but made no requests for relief.
All three commissioners – Bruce Erb, Laura Burke, and Amy Webster – voted to reject Altoona City’s motion for exemption from the 2019 property tax of $ 839 and the 2020 real estate tax of $ 631 for 1110 Seventh Avenue the Second Lutheran Church to be demolished.
“These taxes should have been taken into account at the time of the (town) acquisition” said Burke, drawing the consent of Erb and Webster.
However, the commissioners agreed to waive county fees totaling $ 153.30 related to these unpaid property taxes.
While Burke suggested granting all other exoneration motions, Erb and Webster disagreed.
For a former home ownership at 714 12th St. that the city acquired in 2018, Erb and Webster voted for the city to pay property taxes of $ 125.68 for 2019 and $ 120.74 for 2020, while the county would waive fees totaling $ 225.50.
Erb and Webster also voted for the Altoona Area School District to pay $ 397 property tax in 2019 on 1224 Sixth Avenue, the former bank building he acquired for administrative offices. However, the county fees totaling $ 49 will be waived depending on the vote.
Webster indicated that the property may have been eligible for an exemption in 2019, but no application was made.
Commissioners unanimously voted to meet Newry’s request for a total of approximately $ 25 total property tax exemption on four right-of-way strips of land related to public works. The fees assigned to each property are up to $ 370.
District Administrator Nicole Hemminger told commissioners that Newry was ready to allow all four properties with unpaid property taxes to be moved to the district’s property depot.
While the district would retain the maintenance responsibility for these properties, the district regularly incurs costs for repository properties. These costs come with required bookings and notifications to owners letting them know of steps to take to sell their property for unpaid taxes.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.
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