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Lansdale Electric Incentive Program Gives Businesses Discounted Electric Rates, Building Permit Fees

Tony Di Domizio

Monday, August 11, 2014 • 5:19pm

Here’s a bright idea for businesses – Saving 5 percent to 10 percent in Lansdale Borough electric rates and as much as 50 percent in building permit fees.

Councilman Denton Burnell, during his Administration and Finance Committee report to council last week, said the Economic Development Incentive Ordinance, passed in 2010, continues to be a big win-win for Lansdale and business owners taking part in the program, like Tyco, Rex Heat Treat and Molly Maguire’s.

“One of the key factors in this was Tyco was planning to leave the borough, and this was something they looked at favorably in deciding to stay,” Burnell said. “Several others have taken advantage of it.”

In 2013, total electric revenue collected from businesses in the incentive program totaled $1.1 million, with $14,845 in savings passed back to them, he said.

“It’s clearly a win-win. I certainly hope more businesses take advantage of this. It’s a tool in our box to incentivize investment in the borough and employment in the borough as well,” Burnell said.

In order to qualify, however, businesses must commit to one of four levels of new capital investment – between $500,000 and $4 million – and retention of a required number of full-time employees over a certain time period.

For instance, businesses who invest $500,000 in new capital improvements must also retain 15 full-time employees. The benefit: A 5-percent discount in electric rates for two years, and a 25 percent discount in land development or building permit fees.

Businesses who invest $1 million in new improvements must also retain 30 full-time employees, in order to be eligible at that level. This results in an electric rate discount of 5 percent for five years, and 50 percent reduction in permit fees. Businesses investing $2 million must retain 60 full timers, and thus, reap 7 percent in electric rate discounts for five years, and a 50 percent discount in permit fees. The final tier requires $4 million in new capital investment and at least 120 full-time employees, in order to get a 10 percent discount in electric rates for 10 years, and a 50-percent reduction in permit fees.

After last week’s council meeting, Burnell said borough administration is properly tracking the money being returned to the qualifying businesses, as well as the timeframe of the plan for each business.

“We make sure we are turning off the switch at the end of that time,” he said. “(Finance Director) Brian Shapiro has financial software and ways of tracking so we know when it ends and so forth.”

Burnell said Director of Community Development John Ernst makes sure information on the Economic Development Incentive is in welcoming packets for new businesses. Borough staff and councilmembers also mention it when going out to talk to new business owners in Lansdale.  

Burnell said it has had a positive impact on the borough.

“It’s advantageous to us from an incentive perspective,” Burnell said. “There’s a huge economic impact for having a company like Tyco here. Losing someone like Rex Heat Treat or Tyco would be a major impact to our economy locally.”

For more on the program, call Lansdale Borough at 215-368-1691.

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