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City approves agreement with UPMC Lock Haven

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Lock Haven City Council held its first in-person meeting Monday night on the fourth floor of Raub Hall at Lock Haven University. The space allowed council to stream the meeting to its YouTube page as they've been doing remotely since mid-March while adhering to DOH COVID-19 guidelines.

LOCK HAVEN – In its first in-person meeting since early March, Lock Haven City Council approved an agreement with UPMC Lock Haven for payment in lieu of property taxes until 2024.

The agreement comes just over a year after Clinton County’s Board of Assessment denied the healthcare facility tax exemption status.

If approved in 2019, over $300,000 worth of tax money would have been lost between the city, county and Keystone Central School District. The city was at risk of losing approximately $72,000 worth of tax money at the time with UPMC being its second largest taxable body.

Initially UPMC planned to appeal the decision. However, after discussion with city staff, an agreement was created.

Over the next four years UPMC will pay $40,000 to the city – having already paid $71,073.43 for 2020.

“They’re essentially offering to give slightly half of the real estate taxes they would have paid,” Mayor Joel Long told council.

Code Enforcement Officer Cyndi Walker – who offered comment for City Manager Gregory Wilson who was absent from the meeting – said the payment would cover UPMC’s share of funding for police and fire, the largest two expenses in the city’s general fund.

The agreement was approved unanimously through a motion made by Councilman Steve Stevenson and seconded by Councilman Richard “Rick” Conklin.

Conklin expressed his thoughts on the agreement.

“If they (UPMC) had chosen to challenge this and gone on to the courts UPMC would not have lost this case,” he said. “I am happy that the city came to an agreement with UPMC at this point and, you know, we can talk more in a couple of years.”

Councilman Douglas Byerly was absent from Monday’s meeting held at Raub Hall on Lock Haven University’s campus.

Further information from Monday’s meeting, including the first of the 2021 budget discussions, will be available in a later edition of The Express.

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