Pottsville Area school board members voted Tuesday to formally oppose the potential County government purchase of the former GIANT grocery store in the city.
At their regular meeting last night, the school board members voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that voices their disapproval of the Schuylkill County Commissioners plan to purchase the 2.1-acre parcel in downtown Pottsville.
Pottsville School Board Members Formally Oppose County Pursuit of GIANT Property
The resolution will be signed by Pottsville Area school board president Noble Quandel and sent to Schuylkill Commissioners.
It reads, per the meeting Agenda from Tuesday:
“Resolve to formally oppose the actions of the Schuylkill County Commissioners in the acquisition of the former Giant Grocery Store property. The Pottsville Area School District is committed to retaining our current tax base, the overall economic development, and the education of our students.”
The school board joins Pottsville City Council in formally opposing the Commissioners hellbent intent on buying the former GIANT grocery store property. The store closed over the summer and soon after the lights were turned off for the last time, the Commissioners signaled they were interested in buying the property.
Commissioners say they want to use the property for “general County purposes” but haven’t specified what those purposes are as of now. There’s still a chance, because it hasn’t been publicly denied, that the property could become the County’s long sought after pre-release prison center.
City officials oppose the County’s move because, as the school board’s resolution states, it will put a significant dent in the tax revenue it collects from that commercial property being in private hands.
All Those Opposed
The Commissioners have heard from just about everyone on their goal with this property. And few, if any, are encouraging them to go ahead with their plan, if you can call it that.
So far, the Commissioners have given control of the negotiations to purchase the property to Administrator Gary Bender. No price limit has been made public. The County did pay to have the property appraised after the grocery store closed. However, the County is not disclosing what value the property was given.
Only when pressed to give an answer has the County even disclosed from what funds the money will come to buy the former GIANT, if given the opportunity. Eventually, the County said money will come from its General Fund. If there’s not enough money there, the Commissioners would likely approve a loan to get it.
Earlier this month, the Pennsylvania Senate voted to approve SB1296 which prohibits 4th-class counties, like Schuylkill, from purchasing property in revitalization areas of 3rd-class cities, like Pottsville, and removing them from the tax base. The only way it could get these properties is if both the local municipality and school board approved of the purchase.
Both City Council and Pottsville school board members have now formally opposed the move by County Commissioners. However, SB1296, co-sponsored by State Sen. Dave Argall, who also opposes the County’s pursuit, is currently awaiting action by the House of Representatives before it can be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf to be signed into law.
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