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Pa. Supreme Court rules against Cumberland County in tax case

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The state Supreme Court has reversed a ruling from the Commonwealth Court saying that a Lemoyne property owned by the Philadelphia Board of City Trusts is immune from local taxes in Cumberland County.

The case involves a property at 106 Lowther St., Lemoyne, which the trust board acquired in 2001 on behalf of the assets of Girard Trust, according to court documents. The city manages the trust, which funds Girard College, a Philadelphia boarding school for primary and secondary school students from families with limited financial resources.

In 2002, Cumberland County began billing the board for property and school taxes, according to court documents. By 2007, that had amounted to more than $300,000 the trust board had paid, despite its appeal for immunity as an entity of government. The board filed a court case requesting its immunity and exemption, as well as a repayment of the taxes paid.

The Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas granted the trust board immunity on the property in 2010, but that was subsequently overturned by the Commonwealth Court, according to court documents.

“We are gratified by the (Supreme) Court’s decision to uphold Girard’s tax immunity so that it can continue to pursue its historic charitable mission to educate children in need,” Board of City Trusts President Ronald Donatucci said in a statement.

It’s not immediately known if the board will continue to seek repayment of the taxes on the property, which is leased to the state attorney general for various offices.

Trust board attorneys are reviewing the decision to determine the next course of action, said Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for the board from its public relations firm Bellevue Communication Group.

A call to Cumberland County commissioners for comment on what the decision means to the county’s finances was not immediately returned.

Click here to read the court documents.

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