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Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County; Steel Valley School District
County of Allegheny, Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, Borough of Homestead, Borough of Munhall, Borough of West Homestead, Waterfront Partners; Appeal of: Borough of Homestead
Argued, April 14, 2015
Appealed from No. GD 12-9262. Common Pleas Court of the County of Allegheny. Hertzberg, J.
Joseph G. Heminger, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Nicholas J. Evashavik, Pittsburgh, for appellee Borough of Munhall.
Donald C. Fetzko, West Mifflin, for appellee Steel Valley School District.
Stanley B. Lederman, Pittsburgh, for appellee Borough of West Homestead.
Howard M. Louik, Assistant County Solicitor, Pittsburgh, for appellee County of Allegheny.
BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, Judge, HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.
JAMES GARDNER COLINS,
The Borough of Homestead (Homestead) appeals from the entry of judgment against Homestead by the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County following a non-jury trial and the trial court's denial of Homestead's motions for post-trial relief. The primary basis of this appeal is Homestead's contention that the four-year statute of limitations for contract actions bars claims asserted by Allegheny County, Steel Valley School District (School District) and the Borough of Munhall (Munhall) to require the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (Authority) to reimburse property tax assessment appeal refunds for pre-2010 tax years pursuant to a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement. For the following reasons, we affirm the trial court.
This appeal arises out of an effort by Homestead, Munhall, the Borough of West Homestead (West Homestead), Allegheny County and the School District (collectively, the Taxing Bodies) in conjunction with the Authority to raise finances to redevelop the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works site through the creation of the Waterfront Tax Increment Financing District (Waterfront District). The Waterfront District was created pursuant to the Tax Increment Financing Act (Act), which was enacted in order to alleviate blight, promote economic growth and increase the tax base by creating " an additional and alternative means to finance public facilities and residential, commercial and industrial development and revitalization." Section 2 of the Act, 53 P.S. § 6930.2. TIF is " a technique used by a municipality to finance commercial developments [usually] involving issuing bonds to finance land acquisition and other up-front costs, and then using the additional property taxes generated from the new development to service the debt." Ondek v. Allegheny County Council, 860 A.2d 644, 645 n.2 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2004) (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 1502 (8th ed. 2004)).
To implement a TIF redevelopment project, a redevelopment authority or industrial and commercial development authority must designate the boundaries of a TIF district, propose a project plan for its redevelopment, and meet with the municipalities and school districts which levy property taxes within the designated area to seek their approval for the plan. Section 5(a)(1)--(4) of the Act, 53 P.S. § 6930.5(a)(1)--(4). The TIF district is then created by municipal ordinance and each of the municipalities and other taxing bodies in which the TIF district lies must pass an ordinance or resolution to agree to participate in or opt out of the TIF project. Section 5(a)(6)--(7) of the Act, 53 P.S. § 6930.5(a)(6)--(7). Once the TIF district is created and project plan is adopted, the authority may issue tax increment bonds or notes in order to pay for project costs and establish a fund to pay additional project costs and the ...