Tax Relief

Council to promote tax relief proposal | Native Information

On Tuesday night, Indiana Borough Council authorized advertising of a proposed Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance or LERTA ordinance, which could come up for a vote when council meets on April 5.

According to the document that will be advertised online and in the Gazette, its goal is “encouraging economic redevelopment and long-term investment, (to) improve the sustainability of tax revenue in coming decades, (and) attract new business investments, (as well as) encourage residential housing improvements, and generally foster the wellbeing and prosperity of the borough.”

The borough hopes to achieve that goal by deferring taxes for seven years on new residential, commercial and industrial construction or real property improvements in qualified and approved areas.

“Ordinary maintenance and upkeep are not considered improvements,” the proposed ordinance reads. “Repair, construction, or reconstruction, including alterations and additions increasing the property valuation, (must) amount to more than $20,000 of construction expense.”

Such taxes would include borough levies, as well as those collected by Indiana Area School District and Indiana County within Indiana’s borough limits.

On Jan. 10, the IASD board of directors, at the urging of Council Community Development Chairman Ben Ford, became the first of the entities that would have to approve a LERTA ordinance.

The Indiana County Board of Commissioners also must act on a LERTA ordinance.

“Once we have the final version (from Indiana Borough), then I’ll draft a county ordinance,” county solicitor Matthew Budash said after Wednesday’s board meeting.

Most of Tuesday’s council work session was dedicated to comments on legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The vote to advertise the LERTA ordinance was the only action taken and received an 11-0 voice vote with only Councilwoman Poom Sunhachawi-Taylor absent.

In her report, borough manager Nichole Sipos focused on the community’s pothole hotline.

As stated on indianaboro.com, “to report a pothole or deteriorated road condition within the Indiana Borough, please call (724)-465-6512, fill out a Service Request form or email contact-us@ indianaboro.com.”

The borough asks callers to “please leave a detailed message explaining the location of the area that needs repaired,” and the borough’s Public Works Department “will strive to patch and correct the issue as quickly as possible.”

However, Sipos said, there has to be hot patch available, which the borough gets from Lindy Paving Inc. in Homer City. She said the plant will not have hot patching available for distribution until mid to late April.

In turn, the borough expects to be ready to go out with hot patch in May. Until then, borough street crews can fix minor issues with coal patch, but only as a temporary solution because coal patch is likely to break down quicker.

Also, Sipos said, in addition to two-day and 16-day parking permits currently available, a new annual contractor permit can be obtained from the borough’s Parking Department.

Contractor permits allow parking in any area open to permits in the borough, for a flat fee of $100, that is issued from August to August — but can be obtained at a prorated price for any contractor interested in obtaining a permit before August.

According to the borough’s website, those interested in such a permit can contact the Parking Department in person, via phone at (724) 465-4280 or by emailing contact-us@indianaboro.com.

Police Chief Justin Schawl, Council President Dr. Peter Broad and other borough officials were in attendance at Monday’s Indiana Area Collaborative Team or I-ACT meeting at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex, as the borough, White Township and Indiana University of Pennsylvania brace for what may come over what’s come to be known as IUPatty, over the first weekend after spring break — or now through Sunday.

While those in attendance said there hadn’t been much chatter on social media about what to expect, stakeholders who make up I-ACT aren’t taking chances. Schawl said the area is “likely to see increased activity.”

Schawl also sent out a letter to Indiana/IUP student residents, thanking them “for being great neighbors” and expressing concerns during “the coming weeks (which) will present us all with opportunities to gather and celebrate warmer weather, while at the same time representing Indiana (and) IUP with pride.”

He asked the students “for your partnership” in making a commitment to safety and respect.

“Visitors will not feel the same sense of community pride and responsibility,” the chief wrote. “Not everyone we meet will have our best interests at heart,” and, “even the best intentions of many can be subverted by the actions of a few.”

Schawl also made the points that “alcohol consumption impairs judgment,” that “gathering on rooftops is prohibited and dangerous,” and, “our next door neighbors cannot avoid being impacted by loud indoor and large outdoor events.”

The chief said “increases in police presence throughout Indiana should be expected as warm weather activities approach,” pleading a responsibility to “remain safe and successful in handling any and every situation presented,” and telling the students, “we are here for you, never against.”

He closed the letter, dated March 8, with a wish for “the best of everything” and a repeated request “for your partnership in delivering community peace, safety and comfort.”

The chief also expressed the borough’s condolences to the Pennsylvania State Police over the deaths of state troopers Martin F. Mack III and Branden T. Sisca, who were struck and killed along with a pedestrian they were seeking to aid along Interstate 95 in the Philadelphia area early Monday morning.

A motorist, Jayana Tanae Webb, 21, of Eagleville, Montgomery County, later was arrested and charged with murder of the third degree, driving under the influence and other criminal and traffic offenses.

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