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Diocese request on tax values rejected

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

The Carbon County Board of Assessment Appeals on Thursday announced it has rejected the Allentown Diocese request to reduce the taxable values of 20 properties, including closed churches.

"We just felt that the values they presented were inappropriate," said Chairman Dwight Penberth.

The diocese will fight the ruling, said spokesman Matt Kerr.

"The diocese is disappointed with the ruling of the board of assessment appeals and plans to take the case to Carbon County Court," he said.

The ruling, as it stands, means substantial revenue for the county, Panther Valley School District and the boroughs of Lansford, Summit Hill and Nesquehoning. According to the county, the total taxable value of the properties is $1,448,145. Of that, the school district stands to get $51,358.98 in tax revenue. The county's share would be $9,982.

The diocese closed nine churches in the county on July 15, 2008 because of an anticipated shortage of priests. They were among 47 of 151 churches closed by the diocese. The Carbon County Tax Assessment Office sent notifications that the properties would be placed on the tax rolls on Feb. 11.

Kerr has said the diocese based its appeals on three points.

"First, if the buildings are found to be taxable, under the law they cannot be taxed until the year after they are added to the tax rolls; in this case 2010. Second, the buildings are exempt from taxation because they are owned by a charitable organization; and third, the assessed values placed on the buildings are inflated," he has said.

In Summit Hill, St. Stanislaus Parish was consolidated with St. Joseph Parish at St. Joseph Church.

In Coaldale, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. Mary Parish and SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish were closed, and merged along with St. Michael Parish, St. Ann Parish and SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Lansford into the new St. Katharine Drexel Parish at the former St. Michael Church building.

In Nesquehoning, Immaculate Conception Parish, Sacred Heart Parish and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish were merged to become the new St. Francis of Assisi Parish at the former Immaculate Conception Church building.

In the Weatherly area, St. Mary Parish, Beaver Meadows, and St. Nicholas Parish, Weatherly, merged to become the new Our Lady of Lourdes Parish at the former St. Nicholas Church building in Weatherly.

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