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Washington sues Upper Burrell over Welsh Leedsworld taxes

| Saturday, May 17, 2014, 2:01 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
An exterior of the main office of Leed's inside the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, as seen on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A sign near the entrance of the main office of Leed's inside the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, as seen on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A large Leed's warehouse located in in the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, as seen on Friday, May 16, 2014.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
A large Leed's warehouse is located in in the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, as seen on Friday, May 16, 2014.

Two neighboring townships are again in dispute over tax revenue involving one of the Alle-Kiski Valley's largest employers.

Washington Township is suing Upper Burrell for 50 percent of the local services tax paid by employees at the Welsh Leedsworld facility. The Leed's property straddles the two townships in the Westmoreland Business and Research Park, which has led to the dispute.

The result is significant, because 900 to 1,000 people work there.

“The (Leed's) property sits partly in Upper Burrell and partly in Washington,” said Wesley Long, attorney representing Washington Township. “So we think the employees work partially in Upper Burrell and partially in Washington.”

Upper Burrell collects all of the local services tax paid by the employees. The local tax is $52 per year, per person working at the facility. Of that, $5 goes toward the school district with which to the municipality is affiliated.

Ross Walker III, chair of the Upper Burrell supervisors, estimates the total tax revenue from the Leed's employees to be around $50,000. Calls to the Upper Burrell tax collector for an exact amount were not returned.

Stephen Yakopec, solicitor for Upper Burrell, said the township doesn't believe the law supports Washington Township's position.

“We don't believe they're entitled to half of the local services tax that they are requesting as the law currently stands,” Yakopec said. “The tax may be levied only by a locality where the taxpayer is employed.”

This isn't the first time the two townships have been at odds over tax money.

In 2011, an agreement was reached over property tax revenue from Leed's facility.

Washington Township now receives 28 percent of the property tax revenue.

Long said that the township didn't bring up the local services tax in the previous property tax lawsuit because the township decided to deal with the property tax first.

Yakopec said that this case is different from the property tax case.

“The property tax deals with where the property is located,” he said. “The local services tax covers the municipality where the person actually works.”

Long said Washington Township is waiting for Upper Burrell's response to the lawsuit before it can move forward.

Phone calls to Leed's for comment were not immediately returned.

Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-7710 or ebalser@tribweb.com.

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