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Harford Council passes Upper Chesapeake PILOT agreement, tax credits for Route 40 businesses

BY BRYNA ZUMER, bzumer@theaegis.com

11:30 PM EST, December 17, 2013

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Upper Chesapeake Medical Center will be able to pay Harford County $4,300 annually in lieu of taxes so it can build a major power generator under a deal the Harford County Council approved Tuesday night.

The hospital PILOT agreement was one in a slew of outstanding bills passed by the council at its last meeting for 2013, including tax credit resolutions for three businesses in the Route 40 corridor.

The combined total capital of the projects is $16 million and would create 53 new jobs in the county, business development associate Bridgette Johnson said at an earlier public hearing.

All three properties are in the Enterprise Zone.

They include 415 Pennington Ave. in Havre de Grace, which is being renovated for a dentist's office; 4687 Millenium Drive in Belcamp, where owners are building the Water's Edge Events Center; and 744 to 788 S. Philadelphia Road in Aberdeen, housing Aldi supermarket.

Johnson said Aldi will create 12 new jobs and Water's Edge is expected to create 35.

The council did not make any comments on the bills, and Councilman Dion Guthrie said outside of the meeting he has not heard of any issues or received any bad feedback about the resolutions.

Tax deal OK'd for UCMC

During a previous council meeting, county attorney Rob McCord said the hospital can take advantage of federal tax credits for clean energy, but only if it leases the equipment first from a company called CSFG-UCH LLC.

"If the hospital owned the equipment, we couldn't tax it because we can't tax a non-profit," McCord told the council members during a hearing on the resolution Dec. 3. "If the hospital doesn't own the equipment, they get to take advantage of federal tax credits that make the deal work."

The 2,000-kilowatt tri-generation station would allow the hospital to be fully powered in case of a general power outage, Upper Chesapeake representatives said.

The agreement would allow the company to pay $4,300 in lieu of taxes annually starting July 1, 2014, until June 30, 2035, according to the resolution.

That $4,300 payment would be the equivalent of business property valued at $192,000 based on the Harford County tax rate of $2.24 per $100 of assessed value, according to a fiscal impact note attached to the resolution.

Board of education agreement

The council also agreed to support appropriations for an energy performance lease for the Board of Education.

The interim superintendent recommended transferring $114,316 for heating and air-conditioning repairs at William S. James Elementary School to the energy performance lease program, which would raise it to $19.5 million.

Council members Dion Guthrie and Joe Woods were alone in voting against this, saying the board seems to be "wasting a lot of money."