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Property Tax Article in the Lancaster Sunday News Fairly Portrayed the Story

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mews Boulevard

Property tax is a very passionate subject in today's society.  It is the principal source of revenue for most school districts and local municipalities and the tax rate varies significantly from district to district.  By law, charitable non-profit organizations in Pennsylvania are not required to pay property tax, yet most non-profit retirement communities do pay taxes or make payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs).  In Lancaster County, the non-profit retirement communities pay over $10,000,000 in property taxes a year.  In Hempfield School District the three largest tax payers are  non-profit, health care and retirement organizations - paying far more in property taxes than the many large industrial neighbors in the district.

Homestead Village has paid many millions of dollars in property taxes over the past decade.  As an organization, we believe it is our civic duty to pay our share of the cost of providing quality education and services to the community. It is important to note that we maintain all private streets and infrastructure.  From paving to snow removal to lighting to sidewalks, Homestead Village is 100% responsible for our miles of roads We cost the township no money for maintenance.  When we built The Mews and expanded to the other side of Good Drive, we paid a significant portion of the cost of the creation of Noll Drive and we paid for nearly half of the cost of the traffic light at Noll and Good Drives.  it goes without saying that Homestead Village's neighborhoods do not contribute any students nor place any financial burden on Hempfield School District.

Our property tax for last year was approximately $650,000 representing one of our largest budgeted expenses.  In 2010, we refinanced our long term debt.  As part of that process, the financial institution required an appraisal on The Mews property.  To our surprise, the appraised value was 50% of the assessed value.  That discovery prompted our leadership to hire an independent consultant to analyze our property taxes.  His determination was that Homestead Village's property taxes should be reduced 30%.  It is important to point out that the consultant we contracted  with was recommended by another retirement community.  In that case, the same consultant determined that community was paying the appropriate amount of taxes.  Thus we believe our consultant is very conservative in his determination.

Lastly, it is important to note that Homestead Village is committed to paying our fair share of the property tax burden