Commissioners forgive more than $12,000 in taxes

WESTFIELD – Tioga County commissioners voted Tuesday at their monthly “on the road” meeting to forgive more than $12,000 in outstanding property taxes on the E.H. Hall property, formerly the site if the Westan Tannery, located in Westfield Borough and Westfield Township.

The county will forgive $12,442 in taxes owed through December 2013.

According to Commissioner Erick Coolidge, the forgiven taxes on the property, which is now owned by the Tioga County Development Corp., are “just the county’s portion.”

Coolidge did not know if the other taxing bodies involved would do the same.

“There was a request presented on behalf of Tioga County Development Corp., which now owns the property, and the request was granted with the stipulation was they use the money to begin demo of some of the buildings that are wooden, and would be a threat to the community if it were to catch fire,” Coolidge added.

TCDC has been working for seven years to turn the property into a business park that would ideally attract businesses to lease space and provide jobs to the region, he said.

“We want them to take those tax dollars and reinvest it back into the community to create an environment that would attract other businesses to locate there,” Coolidge said.

The county has been working with TCDC, the Department of Environmental Protection, Westfield borough and township and Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission to clean up the site of the former tannery, which has been closed for several years.

Since it took over the mortgage, TCDC has returned three parcels to the tax rolls, and other parcels were given to Westfield Borough for a Little League Field and by the water authority.

“Early on, the county donated almost $50,000 from its environmental fund for a site examination to be done by Moody and Associates,” Coolidge said. “So with over $60,000 the county has helped, along with others, everyone working together to create an opportunity for jobs to be created there for the future.”

TCDC also has applied for a Keystone Opportunity Zone which, if granted, will exempt the 17 acre business park from paying all state and local taxes for 10 years.