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County Commissioners unanimously approve Knouse Foods tax settlement

Susan Prasse

(4/14) A unanimously approved settlement was made by the Adams County Commissioners for a real estate tax assessment appeal from Knouse Foods Cooperative Inc. at their April 1 meeting.

Knouse Foods Cooperative, located along Orrtanna Road and Carroll's Tract Road, filed an appeal in 2008 for their 531,577-square-foot Orrtanna plant, containing various sections. The three "separately-deeded parcels" are within Highland and Hamiltonban townships and Fairfield Area School District as well as Gettysburg Area School District, said Adams County Director of Tax Services, Daryl Crum.

"Itís always a challenging situation when they span over multiple years," Commissioner Marty Karsteter Qually said. "We really work with our townships and school districts to keep this process moving."

Based upon one-half of their 1990 fair market values, and when the appeal was filed, Knouse Foods Cooperative's total assessed value of three parcels came to be $4,366,398, Crum said. He also noted that the 2008 fair market value was found to be $19,846,264 for the property with a common-level ratio of 22 percent. "Knouse proffered an appraisal of $8, 612, 500," Crum continued. "Despite that, the board denied the appeal."

Officials from Knouse Foods appealed to Adams County Court of Common Pleas, which forced the county to have their own appraisal. Crum said the county hired Pat Noone, of Noone and Associates to move forward with the case. Noone found a fair market value of $11,500,000 for the property. "Two years later, through the reassessment process, the new 2010 value and assessment were established at $9, 103, 900," Crum added. For 2009 taxes, the fair market value was found to be $11, 500, 00 with the assessed value at $2,530,000, including the 22 percent common-level ratio.

In 2010, Knouse Foods Cooperative had the same fair market value as 2009, but an assessed value of $2,553,000. According to Crum, the total 2010 assessment and taxes 2011 to the present and future is $9,103,900. Broken down each parcel, the first has an assessed value of $4.4 million, while the second parcel is $418,000 and the third is $4.1 million.

"With all factors considered including the downturn in the real estate market which occurred over the affected years, I believe that this is the best possible outcome, even if this were taken to trial," Crum said.

Until there is legal change from the Pennsylvania Consolidated Assessment Law, Crum said that the 2010 assessments are in effect from 2011 through 2015. The county will only refund overpayment to Knouse Foods Cooperative in 2009 and 2010 taxes because there was an agreement "to values established at the time of the 2010 reassessment," stated Crum. Adding, "There will be no further change to the current tax rolls as a result."

In other news, the Hamiltonban Township Engineer has decided to close the bridge spanning Tomís Creek at the Gum Springs end of Mount Hope Road for safety reasons. Upon further inspection, it was decided that the steel beam superstructure is in serious condition. The Board of Supervisors are working with the Township Engineer to develop a plan of action to replace or repair the bridge. For additional information, please contact the Road Department at 717-642-8531.

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