Chamber Expresses Concern Over Danville’s LERTA Amendment
At their most recent meeting, the Danville Borough Council amended its Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) ordinance to omit Mill Street and other areas from eligibility for the program.
The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, which represents local employers in supporting vibrant, sustainable communities in Columbia and Montour Counties, is expressing concern at this decision and its potential impact on future economic development.
“At the heart of vibrant economies are thriving downtowns,” said Chris Berleth, Columbia Montour Chamber President. “In an economy that still struggles to get going post-COVID, we’ve got to do everything we can, and pull out all of the stops to promote a business-friendly environment and to support small business owners who want to invest in the properties that make our communities a great place to gather, shop, and live. Amending the LERTA to remove program eligibility from Mill Street and the Central Business District disincentivizes investment at best, and at worst, makes it more difficult.”
According to the Guidelines for the Administration of the LERTA, “A major deterrent to improving deteriorating business property has been that improvements result in higher property value and therefore, result in higher local property taxes. The higher taxes often discourage business property owners from making improvement in blighted areas. LERTA was designed to allow municipalities to overcome the problem.”
Rebecca Dressler, Executive Director of the Danville Business Alliance, was quoted at the Borough Council meeting as having said, “In order to encourage downtown property owners to utilize the upper floors in our downtown commercial buildings for residential use, the Central Business District (which included Mill Street) should be included in the LERTA ordinance.” (Gibbons, Geri. “Danville council excludes areas from tax relief.” Press Enterprise, 19 April, 2023. p. 8)
The Columbia Montour Chamber joins the Danville Business Alliance in support of this opinion and welcomes the opportunity to engage community leaders in further discussion on policy that will promote an increasingly business-friendly environment.