2008-10-23 / Local & State

Reintroduction Of LERTA Proposed

Solicitor asked to draft proposed ordinance, documents for countywide tax assistance program
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

The Fulton County commissioners gave authorization to their solicitor Tuesday afternoon to proceed with the paperwork necessary to adopt an ordinance allowing for the reintroduction of an economic revitalization program on a countywide basis.

During a public meeting held before the commissioners October 21, Steve Thomas of the county planning office said members of the Planning Commission reviewed the proposal to offer the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) earlier this month and appeared in favor of offering the tax- relief program to the county as a whole. LERTA not only encourages the expansion or remodeling of existing businesses but also encourages new businesses to move into the area through tax incentives or breaks.

As a result of the Planning Commission meeting, Thomas stated the organization opted to draft a letter to be sent to the commissioners showing their support of the LERTA reinstatement. The Fulton Industrial Development Association has also penned a similar letter indicating it is in favor of the measure.

Michelle Sowers, chief tax assessor, provided the commissioners with a list of local businesses that either relocated to the county or expanded their current operation. Solicitor Stanley Kerlin added that, under existing economic hardship, numerous local business, including the Chevrolet and Ford dealerships, have or will be closing; JLG has encountered massive layoffs; two banks lost local ownership; and BiLo closed its doors, thereby bringing Fulton County's unemployment rate to the third highest in the commonwealth.

Furthermore, it was noted by those in attendance even though officials from certain areas of the county previously expressed some initial displeasure of the program, times have indeed grown tougher locally.

Kerlin was instructed to begin drafting necessary documents and advertising to adopt an ordinance at an upcoming meeting of the Fulton County commissioners. In the meantime, local municipalities and school districts will be contacted regarding the proposed plan.

In other county business attended to this week, business manager Tim Stanton reported on the savings available to local residents through their participation in the National Association of Counties (NACo) prescription drug discount card program. Since the program started in July 2007, local residents have saved $27,395.92 on their prescriptions. Applications to join the program are still available at local pharmacies or through Stanton, who noted all residents of Fulton County are eligible.

On a motion by Commissioner Dan Swain, the commissioners agreed to change payroll providers from AD Computers to Pay Time. The change is effective January 1 or as soon after that time is possible.

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