Spring-Ford, GlaxoSmithKline remain far apart on assessment dispute
The district's latest compromise offer to the company in an attempt to avoid refunding $5.5M in back taxes was "rejected out of hand," the district's solicitor said Monday.
A tax assessment dispute between the Spring-Ford Area School District and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that would cost the school district $5.5 million in refunded taxes increasingly appears destined to wind up in court.
Ongoing negotiations between the two sides have failed to yield any significant compromises, district solicitor Marc Davis said at the school board's Monday evening work session.
At issue is the valuation of GSK's corporate campus in Upper Providence. The property is currently assessed at about $200 million. In challenging the assessment, the company has submitted a valuation of about $45 million. The school district's reassessed value for the property is about $95 million.
"The reduction from the current assessment to the assessment that we [SFASD] are asking for would be a tax loss of about $1 per year," Davis said.
"The board authorized me to suggest a compromise between our two numbers," Davis said.
The district's revised offer to the company would have narrowed the gap between GSK's valuation and the district's valuation by about 25 percent, or to about $70 million, in exchange for the company forgiving the $5.5 million in refunded taxes that they would be owed under the reassessment.
"They have rejected that out of hand, essentially," Davis said.
Board member David Shafer criticized GSK for rejecting an offer that contained what he called a "dramatic" reduction in its tax burden.
"It's sickening to me that this one particular corporation is not comfortable with such a dramatic reduction. We're agreeing to a dramatic reduction. That's just bothersome to me," Shafer said.
"I saw their response [in a letter sent to Davis] and it's like we're insulting them with this significant reduction," Shafer said.
Board president Joseph Ciresi joined Shafer in criticizing the company's rejection of the district's latest offer.
"They are a large drug company, and I know that they make drugs that help all of us, obviously, but what they're about to do to the community is a humongous blow," Ciresi said, adding that the financial burden would ultimately fall on district taxpayers.
"I think they're building a $300 million facility in Philadelphia, if I'm not mistaken, so they have money for that but we can't come to terms on this tax deal," Ciresi said.