Harley contends that the contamination
it inherited when it purchased the property
nearly 40 years ago should be
factored into the land value.
By Lauren Boyer
Daily Record/Sunday News
York, PA - A dispute over the property taxes Harley-Davidson pays to the Central York School District will come before a York County judge Monday.
A ruling in Harley's favor could cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Harley contends that the contamination it inherited when it purchased the property nearly 40 years ago should be factored into the land value. The company also contends the fair market value of the land has been less than its assessed value for the past seven years. Typically, assessments are lower than the fair market value.
Court documents filed Jan. 10 show that Harley's 230 acres along Route 30 in Springettsbury Township were assessed at $26 million in 2010. Harley will testify that the fair market value for the land that year was, at most, $12.5 million. Therefore, the company contends, the assessment and the taxes owed should have been much less.
Harley owed $461,760 in school taxes in 2010. If the assessed value had been in the $12.5-million range, it would have owed about $220,000, less than half of what it paid.
If the court rules that Harley has overpaid taxes since 2003, the company expects to be refunded, Bob Klein, a Harley-Davidson spokesman, said Friday.
"We would be looking to recoup that," Klein said. "We would work with the district on how to best deal with repayment of amounts that have been overpaid. "
The school district's attorney, business manager, superintendent and school board president could not be reached for comment.
This isn't the first time Harley has argued its tax assessment.
In June 2004, the company appealed in court its 2003 assessment change from $10 million to $39.2 million. While the case was pending, a countywide assessment in 2006 listed the property's assessed value at $46.1 million.
A judge later ruled in 2007 that Harley-Davidson would pay taxes based on a $26 million assessment, a figure that has been on county records since 2006.
The environmental issues at the Harley site pre-date its operations. Before the motorcycle company moved to the property in 1973, the land was used by contractors and the U.S. Navy to manufacture guns, rocket launchers and bombs.