Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Commissioners Opine on City's Nonprofit and Social Services Tax Burden

Asked by a NewsLanc reporter, Wednesday, whether the Commissioners will consider Mayor Gray's recent proposal that the County make some contribution to the city in-lieu of taxes due to the number of nonprofits in the City, due to the social services the City provides, and due to the number of unfortunates who tend to seek refuge in the City, Commissioner Chairman Dennis Stuckey replied that he is aware of the City's request, but said "We haven't discussed it" and would not comment on whether or not the Board would consider such a move.

But Commissioners Lehman and Martin did have "personal opinions" to offer.

Lehman, the lone Democrat on the 3-member Commission, said, "I would like to see the State give counties the option to put a 1% sales tax on the ballot and have that 1% sales tax revenue approved by the voters be used for property tax relief at the County level, farmland preservation, and I'd like to see that nonprofits be reimbursed County-wide. I don't know whether Lancaster County voters would approve it, but that certainly would be what I'd like to see happen and I may be making a proposal to that effect in the near future."

For his part, Commissioner Martin told the NewsLanc reporter in an interview following the meeting, "No... I think it starts a slippery slope. Should the County of Lancaster start making in-lieu of tax payments for every single nonprofit and municipal office?"

Martin went on to say that "It shouldn't be looked at as whether the County is taking care of the City's problems or whether the City is taking care of the County's problems," calling it instead a "partnership." He cited such County projects as grants approved for the County Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, proposed actions on the County Prison, Clipper Stadium, and the County's guarantees of bond revenues for the Convention Center project as ones that primarily benefit the city.