Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Unused school facilities may be taxed next year

At today’s County Commissioners’ Planning Session, the Commissioners granted a $1,800.91 tax exoneration for three properties owned, but not actively used, by Manheim Township School District (MTSD). A tax exoneration is essentially a de-facto exemption that must be specially granted for a property that does not formally qualify for tax-exempt status.

As explained by Dee Dee McGuire, Lancaster County’s Director of Property Assessment, a property must be utilized for actual school purposes to maintain a tax-exemption. The properties at 15, 49, and 313 Valley Road, however, are not currently occupied in any such manner: “For lack of a better term, they purchased [the properties] and they’re sitting on them, waiting to decide how to use them,” said McGuire.

Currently, these three facilities sit vacant on parcels adjacent to Manheim Township High School. According to McGuire, the District has no concrete plans in motion to put these buildings to use. MTSD had requested exonerations for two of these buildings in recent years, the longest running of which has been exonerated since 2005.

Before granting this year’s request, the Commissioners expressed their desire to see these School-owned properties put to legitimate use. Commissioner Craig Lehman gently asserted, “Maybe next year we won’t say yes” if a plan for the properties is not developed.