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Downtown Lancaster—Is That the Place To Be in 2014?
January 8, 2014
Good news for developers, builders, contractors, and city residents.
2014 is already shaping as an exciting New Year for the City of Lancaster. It was announced earlier this week that Lancaster was selected as one of two cities (the other Bethlehem) for the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone (“CRIZ”) program based on legislation that was passed and signed into law in July by Governor Tom Corbett. The CRIZ program was crafted by local politicians including Mayor Rick Gray and Senator Lloyd Smucker.
In order to spur economic development and investment in certain areas of the city of Lancaster, the state of Pennsylvania is providing support through the CRIZ program.
How Does It Work?
Lancaster has a 7-member CRIZ authority board that will approve projects, borrow money, and issue bonds for construction and rehabilitation projects focusing on vacant, desolate, underutilized, or abandoned space. The debt service on the borrowings will be financed by certain state and local taxes above a baseline amount. Most state taxes collected within the CRIZ will be transferred to a CRIZ fund. The Pennsylvania Revenue Department will make annual payments from the fund to the municipal authority until the bonds are retired. Business owners within the CRIZ will file and pay their taxes as normal. Behinds the scenes, the taxes they pay up to a baseline amount go to the state or local government. Taxes above the baseline amount will ultimately go into the CRIZ fund to fund these projects.
The CRIZ Authority is responsible for designating the zones (up to 130 acres), providing or borrowing money for development, improvement, or construction within the zone, and preparing a list of qualified businesses and construction contractors operating within the zone. The CRIZ duration will last approximately 30 years, which should be long enough to pay down the debt from these projects. The initial funding of projects is most likely to begin in late 2014.
Currently, it appears that the CRIZ authority is focusing on improvements in areas in and around downtown Lancaster. The eight projects that were listed in the city’s application focused primarily on the downtown area and included the Hotel Lancaster and the Bulova Building.
Initially, the construction and contracting industry should see job creation coming from these projects. As these projects move toward completion, the goal is to attract new or existing businesses, entrepreneurs, and residents looking for a more urban lifestyle. The City hopes that this will foster increase tax revenue without increasing tax rates. The real goal is to attract businesses and people that will continue to support a thriving downtown, create jobs, enhance commerce, and improve the lives of city residents and visitors.
Simon Lever: One of the Best Places to Work in PA 2013
October 11, 2013
Simon Lever LLP has been named one of the Best Places to Work in PA for 2013. The awards program, created in 2000, is one of the first statewide programs of its kind in the country. The program is a public/private partnership among Team Pennsylvania Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Central Penn Business Journal.
This survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Pennsylvania, which are benefiting the state’s economy and its workforce.
According to Marlin Benedict, managing partner, “We are thrilled to receive this recognition. The Best Places to Work award is really about all of us collectively, working together as a company, living out our core values, enjoying what we do and being fulfilled in our careers. By its very nature, the award signifies a focus outward on others, which is a key and integral part of our core ideology. It also represents the attainment of a goal, which meant we needed to be and live being a Best Places to Work before receiving the recognition of that status.”
Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the 100 Best Places to Work in PA. The first part of this process was evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophies, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25 percent of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75 percent of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.
Simon Lever LLP will be recognized at the Best Places to Work in PA awards banquet on Thursday, December 5 at the Lancaster County Convention Center in Lancaster.
Don’t Fall Off This Cliff
September 27, 2013
By Darren Finn
Another cliff is looming for small businesses and it is not the one you might think. As we come to the close of 2013 and Washington still cannot determine what bills to pay and how to pay them, it appears that small business owners may pick up the tab in 2014. Several key tax provisions are set to expire at year-end that will have a significant impact on many companies’ cash flow. In no particular order:
- Expensing fixed asset additions will drop from $500,000 to $25,000 in 2014 (Sec. 179 expensing)
- Bonus depreciation of 50% of the cost for eligible new assets ends in 2013
- Research and Experimentation tax credit is to set to expire at the end of 2013
These tax laws have been important to small business owners during this recession as a means to increase cash flows and reduce federal taxes. With little more than three months to go until the year ends, and little to no action or attention from Congress, it once again appears that small business owners will be facing an uncertain business environment and a bigger tax bill.
What is to be done? Speaking with your elected representative is a good idea. Better yet, plan in advance and accelerate potential capital expenditures into 2013. Proactively work with your business advisor to get the most favorable classification and treatment for assets in your “construction in progress” account that will be placed in service in the future. Make sure your business is keeping timely records documenting your research and development activities to maximize potential tax credits in 2013 that can be carried forward. This will protect the value of these credits even if they cannot be used in the current year.
Some of these provisions may return in 2014, but it is increasingly difficult to get clarity into which laws may be revived, when, and in what form. With looming changes in health care and tax rates it is easy to overlook the impact of older laws expiring. Now is the time to prepare for 2014 by performing some year-end tax planning.
Please contact us if you have any questions.