The diocese of Allentown will begin paying taxes on churches it closed in 2008, according to an order that was signed by Carbon County Senior Judge Richard W. Webb.

Webb signed the order on Tuesday following a hearing on a pending appeal of the tax assessment levied by the taxing bodies, including the Panther Valley School District.

The order is the result of an agreement by the diocese to begin paying taxes on the former properties as of the 2009 taxing year. In exchange, the court accepted the assessment values presented by the diocese for the properties involved.

Carbon County moved to tax 20 properties owned by the diocese and formerly used as churches, rectories, convents and schools. After the county moved to tax the properties –which was joined by the other taxing bodies in the areas where the properties were located, including school districts and boroughs and townships – the diocese filed an appeal seeking to lower the assessed values.

The diocese, in its appeal, presented its own assessment values for the properties.

Reportedly, an agreement was reached for the diocese to begin paying taxes on the properties as of the 2009 tax year in exchange for the assessments contained in their appeal being accepted by the taxing bodies.

At the time the county moved to tax the properties, the value was set at $1,448,145. The diocese's proposed assessment value was $810,000. That figure will be used to determine the tax bills for the properties.

Last September the county assessment appeals board rejected the diocese's request for a reduction because it felt that the values presented were "not appropriate." The diocese then filed an appeal with the county court of the assessment board's decision.

Yesterday's action by Webb addressed the appeal in the case.