Mt. Jewett council nixes medical center tax relief

MT. JEWETT – The Mt. Jewett Borough Council voted 6-0 Monday to reject a request from Kane Community Hospital for property tax relief for its new medical center now under construction on West Main Street.Council President Chuck Paar joined with Councilmen Chip Lannen, Don Martyna, Wil Antrim, John Keesee and Brett Morgan to shoot down the request. Councilwoman Linda Berry did not attend the meeting due to a leg injury, it was noted.Kane Community Hospital, which is an affiliate of UPMC Hamot, is building a new medical complex at 18 W. Main St.-- not far from the post office at the intersection of Center Street.The new building reportedly will replace the existing physician's office for Dr. Linda Rettger of Mt. Jewett.In a letter, Gary Rhodes, chief executive officer of Kane Community Hospital and vice president of UPMC Hamot, asked for property tax relief for the project under the borough's Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA). Under the program, businesses can receive tax relief over a 10-year period.According to the application, construction of the project began last October and is expected to be completed in April."Construction is under way and things are moving along very well at this point," Rhodes said in his letter to the borough. "The total estimated cost for this project is $650,000."Rhodes said the hospital currently has three full-time employes at its Mt. Jewett office and "are adding at least one more full-time person when the facility opens.""We are very excited to provide new and expanded medical care to the community and hope that we have your full support," Rhodes said.Based on comments prior to the vote to reject the LERTA application, it appears council believes the hospital should have followed the ordinance guidelines and filed its request before the building permit was issued.Paar said the request for tax relief "should have been addressed" prior to the issuance of the permit. He said the tax relief was "not applied for in a timely manner."Morgan said it would have been "appropriate" for the hospital to ask for the tax relief before construction began."They didn't follow the procedure," Martyna said. "You would have thought they would have had their ducks in a row."See full article by purchasing the March 6 edition of The Kane Republican.