Carlisle Borough Council voted unanimously Thursday night to expand its zone for redevelopment tax breaks to include the former Tire & Wheel, IAC and Tyco Electronics factories.
The former factories will now be eligible for Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance, or LERTA, which reduces taxes to spur redevelopment and then eases them back in to full rates over time. The Tire & Wheel and IAC properties are slated for redevelopment in the near future.
“We were pleased to hear that Carlisle approved the expansion of its LERTA zone last evening,” said Bill Miller Jr., co-owner of Carlisle Events, who is redeveloping the IAC tract. “We feel it is vital to have incentives such as LERTA on the table during larger projects like the one we’re currently working on. It will ultimately help us, our partners and the local area by making the former plant something that’s good for the local community and the people that live near it.”
In Carlisle’s LERTA zone the time frame for tax abatement is five years, with the first year allowing 100 percent tax exemption and easing up to 40 percent, according to its taxation ordinances. In the sixth year, property owners would pay full tax rates. Prior to the expansion, the LERTA zone was limited to Carlisle’s downtown C1 commercial district excluding the square.
The council passed the ordinance change with little discussion at the hearing before the meeting, other than from former Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities director Chris Gulotta. LERTA districts are definitely helpful for the redevelopment of downtowns, he said.
Over the years, Carlisle’s manufacturing base in town has shrunk yet its role as a center for logistics and warehousing has grown. Jobs too have moved to the warehouses outside of town.
Gulotta’s main reason for being at the meeting was to give council the final feasibility study for a circulator bus proposal that would pick people up in town and shuttle them to jobs just outside. The shuttle also would connect Carlisle’s populations with commercial and community centers.
The state and county hired Allegheny County-based engineering consultants Michael Baker Corp. to prepare the study. Gulotta was consulting with the company through his Carlisle-based firm The Gulotta Group.
“This has already been talked about for a generation,” Gulotta said. “I think our generation can accomplish this.”
Many of the logistics and warehousing businesses just outside town are getting their employees from other towns and counties even though they’re closer to Carlisle, he said. The main reason is transportation; there just isn’t a way for those without it in Carlisle to get to those jobs, he said.
The circulator bus would also serve as a way for low-income residents to reach medical facilities, employment skills training opportunities and other services, Gulotta said. Dickinson College students also are interested so they can reach commercial and community centers.
If Carlisle and surrounding townships agree to move forward with the plan, costs will be minimal, Gulotta said. Federal Transit Administration money would pay for 97 percent of capital costs. Dickinson College and its student Senate already approved $16,000 toward the proposed three-year circulator bus.
The state would pay for much of the operating costs through its Public Transportation Trust Fund with the local match coming to $41,000 per year. Gulotta said the plan is to have employers, nonprofits and county government contribute as well.
Council didn’t act on the proposal, but some members are supportive.
“We like to believe (Carlisle is) a forward-thinking community, and I think this moves us forward,” council Vice President Tim Scott said.