Lancaster officials say relying on property taxes isn’t working for local government

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Lancaster City Mayor Rick Gray says certain tax-exempt properties could be bringing in cash for the city. He says this is just one example of how relying on property taxes isn’t working for local government any longer. Gray says currently, a third of all properties in the city of Lancaster are tax exempt. He says he understands that these non-profit entities don’t have the cash and he doesn’t expect them to. He would however, like to see some entities like the County pay a fair share on buildings like the courthouse, county offices, and the county prison that are located in the city.

“ If they would pay taxes, just city taxes,  it would be about a million and a quarter a year the city would get . Meanwhile we`re obligated to provide fire, police, public works, “ says Mayor Gray

Lancaster County Commissioner Scott Martin says having the county pay taxes to the city isn’t the answer to increase the city’s revenue problem.

“ The issue is long overdue. The answer isn’t the county paying taxes to the city. It would be like the county saying we are going to tax every municipality and school district for the business of being in Lancaster county. We shouldn’t be raising taxes to pay taxes. The issue should be focused on reform,” says Martin

He says the larger issue is local government having to rely on property taxes for revenue. Something he and Mayor Gray can both agree on. Meanwhile, Commissioner Martin says there are some non-profits in Lancaster County making big contributions in lieu of tax payments. Lancaster General Health is one of them.

“ We realize we use services, municipal services ,fire, police protection, and that’s an important role in paying for the services we receive,”  says John Lines with Lancaster General Health

But Mayor Gray insists more non-profits could be contributing.

“ We send out letters to non-profits to contribute what they can. Some of the churches are able to do it and they do, and then there are some that are able to do it , and they don`t, ” says Gray