The Carbon County Board of Assessment Appeals on Thursday ruled that former Panther Valley Middle School owner Adam Webber is not entitled to tax cuts on his building.
"There is no change" in the tax status, said board Chairman Dwight Penberth. He said Webber failed to present sufficient evidence to convince the board to reduce the taxes.
Webber on June 17 asked the board to reduce the total $69,685.73 tax burden on the property, at 15 E. Bertsch St., Lansford. However, the board cited the fact that Webber had not had the building appraised, relying instead on a three-year-old figure provided by the school district.
Assessment appeals board member Thomas McCall said that an "up-to-date appraisal is an important tool" when filing an appeal.
"When they go in front of a judge, often the only thing that will hold up is an appraisal," he said.
Webber, who did not attend the rulings announcement session, was of course disappointed.
"I think that the assessment appeals board is sending the wrong message to business owners that may look at this area of Carbon County for a place to do business in," he said.
"It truly is a negative way to promote redevelopment and revitalization in an area that can use it. I speak not only as the owner of the building but, as someone who is vested in the redevelopment of the area. The best example that I can come up with is the analogy of teaching a man to fish. It is easier to just give the man a fish and feed him for the day but, if you take the time and teach the man to fish he can feed himself and has the possibility of feeding his family for a long period of time," he said. "To leave the tax assessment rate for the old Lansford High School building at the level that it sits today is like giving the taxing bodies a fish. If the rate was set at a more appropriate level of assessment. I see that action to be like teaching them to fish and could lead to a greater reassessment value and revitalization for the whole area in time to come."
Webber vowed to forge ahead despite the ruling.
"My plans are unwavering and I plan to move ahead with the resources I can muster. My main focus is to promote, promote, promote," he said.
Webber had bought the three-story building, with a 16,176-square-foot footprint for $150 in March of 2009, two years after the school district closed it to build a school next to the high school, along Route 209 between Lansford and Nesquehoning.
The county assessed the Fair Market Value of the building at $1,994,100. Webber wants that reduced to the $97,580 an appraiser hired by the school district arrived at for the building and its adjoining parking lot in 2008.
According to the county Tax Assessment Office, the building's taxable value is currently assessed at $733,125.
As of now, Webber would owe $40,827.73 to the Panther Valley School District; $23,804.57 to the borough of Lansford and $5,053.43 to the county.