In order to help taxpayers in the City of Lebanon, Mayor Sherry Capello met with City Council Monday evening to formally adopt a resolution extending the discount period for real estate tax payments.
“The real estate tax resolution was passed in an effort to provide relief to citizens who have been adversely affected by the pandemic,” Mayor Capello said. “We felt it was important to change the tax deadlines to the same as those recently adopted by the county commissioners. The county treasurer collects for both of us and we didn’t want any confusion.”
The resolution extends the discount period for real estate tax payments from April 30 to June 30 and the base period from June 30 to Oct. 31, with penalties levied after Oct. 31.
The resolution passed unanimously, with no discussion.
“Everybody was on board,” Capello said.
Council Chairman Wayne Carey said he hoped the resolution would help people to some extent.
“We’re trying to give everybody a little ease. For those who are struggling, that’s why we put it into place,” Carey said. “But they have to understand—just like their household—the city needs money to run on, too. It affects so many of us in different ways.”
If the taxes couldn’t be reduced, at least they could be delayed, giving people time.
“Everybody is concerned, from all different walks of life,” Carey said. “We have many great folks and some are unable to work, while others have been laid off, and we have businesses that are struggling to stay in business. It’s a time of hardship.”
The city’s new real estate tax due dates match Lebanon County’s real estate tax deadlines, which were pushed back by the Lebanon County Commissioners at an April 17 meeting.
Council also approved another resolution to extend the base period for all storm water management fee payments for more than seven months, from May 15 to Dec 31.
That payment is not a tax, Capello said, but a fee to fund a mandate.
The city is mandated by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to implement a pollution reduction plan for storm water over a five-year permit cycle.
The municipal separate storm sewer systems plan is part of the overall Chesapeake Bay pollution plan, Carey said, and annual fees are based on a square footage formula.
The cost of the overall plan is expected to be from $3.5 million dollars to $5 million, according to Capello.
“We couldn’t pay for that out of the general fund,” she said.
The current taxes were not sufficient to address that bill, either, so a fee was levied on city residents: For most, it will amount to $60 per household, approximately.
“I understand a lot of our residents are struggling,” Capello said. “If we give them extra time [to pay the fee] it should help … but for some of our businesses, depending on the impervious coverage they have, [like parking lots], the fee is really high.
“Depending on how much pavement is covered, their fee could range between $500 to several thousand dollars, so we definitely want to give our businesses a longer time to make the payment and that’s why we extended it to Dec. 31st, 2020,” Capello said.
Part of the DEP plan is for municipalities to put more effort into creating green projects, Capello said, and because the city of Lebanon has mostly impervious surface, it would have been difficult to achieve that goal.
So, the city partnered with five municipalities to work together on the projects: North Cornwall, North and South Lebanon, Cleona Borough, and Annville Township.
The inter-municipal partnership is a good idea, Carey said, and will lend everybody their fair share of credit while dividing the payment.
“So, that way we share in the funding and we share in the credit,” Capello said. “Overall, the storm water goes into the rivers and into the waterways, and storm water pollution is everybody’s concern.”
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