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Diocese appeals tax levies to Lansford, Panther Valley

Published November 12. 2009 05:00PM

Lansford Borough Council was among several municipalities and school districts, including Panther Valley, to receive official notification that the Allentown Diocese has appealed property tax levies on churches it closed in July 2008.

Lansford Council members on Wednesday were given copies of a letter delivered by certified mail from Traud Law Offices, Allentown, informing them that the diocese filed its appeal in Carbon County Court on Oct. 14.

The county Assessment Appeals Board on Sept. 24 rejected the diocese' request to reduce the taxable values of the properties.

The total taxable value of the diocese' Lansford holdings is $566,475, according to the county Tax Assessment Office. The borough's property tax rate is currently 25.11 mills, meaning it would gain $14,224 in tax revenue.

The school district stands to gain the most $51,358.98 from taxes imposed on the buildings.

Anticipating a shortage of priests, the diocese on July 15, 2008 closed 47 of 151 of its churches, including nine in Carbon County. The closed churches and other properties were placed on the tax rolls as of Feb. 11.

Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr has said the appeals were based on three points. First, if the buildings are found to be taxable, they cannot be taxed until 2010; second, the buildings are tax-exempt because they are owned by the diocese; and third, the tax assessments were inflated, he has said.

Here are the Lansford properties and the county's assessments:

A former school at 203 East Abbott St.: $155,445; the former SS. Peter and Paul Church at 215 East Abbott St.: $115,580; a lot at 217 East Abbott St.: $19,400; the former St. Ann's church at 2 East Bertsch St.: $211,510; a lot at 12 East Bertsch St.: $2,050; a former rectory at 30 East Bertsch St.: $62,490.

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