Gov. Tom Wolf now has legislation on his desk that contains emergency measures to help local governments respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and includes a provision addressing a popular state education tax credit program. The bill was unanimously approved by both the state Senate and House, and has been presented to the Governor for signature.
In relevant part to municipalities, Senate Bill 841 provides the following during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Real Estate Tax Deadlines: Authorizes local governments to extend the discount period for local property taxes to August 31, 2020, and waive fees and penalties associated with late payments as long as the taxes are paid in full by December 31, 2020;
- Electronic Notarization: Allows remote, electronic notarization through a designated list of Department-approved technologies;
- Virtual Meetings: Permits local governments to meet through authorized telecommunications devices, pursuant to advertisement, for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration; and
- Permit and Deadline Holds: Temporarily suspends statutory time deadlines for the review, hearing and decision of any applications, plats, plans, and other submissions, while allowing applicants and municipalities to proceed by mutual agreement.
Note that the Bill (soon to be Act) contains detailed requirements for the pre-posting of minutes, agendas and action items, and requires direct notice to “applicants and interested parties” at least five (5) days prior to action on their matter. Municipalities seeking to take advantage of these new provisions must take certain action and be proactive in order to do so.
If you have any questions about the application of this law, the attorneys in Siana Law’s Municipal Law Group are available to assist you.
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