Taxes come due at contractor's West Deer office
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Thursday, June 27, 2013, 1:06 a.m.
The Deer Lakes School District and West Deer stand to benefit from a construction firm's regional office becoming taxable.
In response to a recent request from Allegheny County, Joseph B. Fay Co. was one of 20 property owners to inform county officials it no longer qualifies for tax-exempt status on its property.
In the Alle-Kiski Valley, the only other property affected was a roughly 42,000-square-foot vacant lot on Hulton Road in Plum that Presbyterian SeniorCare sold to Longwood at Oakmont in July 2008, Presbyterian Senior Care spokeswoman Lisa Fischetti said.
Joseph B. Fay Co. identifies property in West Deer near the Rock Airport as its Pittsburgh regional office. A representative did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
A state Keystone Opportunity Zone designation became active at the site on Jan. 1, 1999, and expired on Dec. 31, 2010, said Lyndsay Frank, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
The zone exempted Joseph B. Fay from property and several other state and local taxes from 2001 to 2010, Frank said.
With the property's 2013 assessed value of about $2.1 million, Deer Lakes stands to gain about $40,000 in that revenue, district Business Manager Dennis Thimons said Wednesday.
But Thimons said the property is still listed as tax-exempt, and he was uncertain if the district would be able to assess taxes against it for the district's 2013-14 school year.
It may not be able to do so until 2014-15, he said.
The property and its value cannot yet be used as the district finalizes its 2013-14 budget, Thimons said. The school board is meeting Friday to pass the district's spending plan.
Taxes on the property would garner about $4,000 for West Deer, which has a budget of about $4.7 million, Township Manager Daniel Mator said.
“It all makes a difference,” he said.
Mator did not know if any other properties in the Keystone Opportunity Zone would be affected as Fay's has been.
Mator said the township relies on the county to keep track of which properties are taxable.
“We can only go by what the county gives us,” he said.
Allegheny County has been reviewing tax-exempt properties since February, according to county spokeswoman Amie Downs.
The county sent letters to the owners of 2,800 tax-exempt properties, asking if and how they qualified for not paying property taxes, she said.
Of those, 1,833 responded and provided documentation supporting their tax-exempt status; 659 asked for an extension; 288 did not respond.
Presbyterian SeniorCare and Joseph B. Fay were among the 20 that said they no longer qualify because of how they use the property or, as in Presbyterian SeniorCare's case, no longer own it.
Those that requested, extensions were given 30 or 60 days.
For the more than 1,800 claiming they qualify, Downs said the county is planning to do site visits to ensure that they do.
“We're not anywhere near the end of the process,” she said.
For those that did not respond, their tax-exempt status was revoked, Downs said. Those owners can appeal to the Board of Property Assessment and Review, or reapply, she said.
Staff writer Bobby Kerlik contributed to this report. Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or email@example.com.
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