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Good morning. Pity the poor tax collector. The job used to be all numbers. But thanks to the vagaries of work from anywhere, it requires the imagination of a novelist. Consider the range of scenarios involved in figuring out whether to apply sales tax to services performed by people hired remotely to do work in Pennsylvania. They could be hired by companies anywhere and they may never set foot in the state. But they could be servicing equipment here through the magic of fiber optic cables. Pick your own adventure in a work titled Sales and Use Tax Bulletin 2021-03
 
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$48M apartment project slated for Lancaster



An iconic Lancaster property is in line for a makeover.
  • Developer Ben Lesher plans to spend $48 million to erect two apartment buildings on the site of the Stockyard Inn to the north of downtown Lancaster
  • The proposed development, dubbed The Yards, calls for 216 apartments in a pair of L-shaped buildings, 12,000 square feet of commercial retail or office space, and a clubhouse fashioned from the inn (shown above).
  • But first, Lesher and his company, SDL Devco LLC, need approval from the city's zoning board and historical commission, since he plans to tear down a part of the inn and move it within the site. The apartment buildings also will exceed allowable height limits by several feet each.
  • Both panels are scheduled to hear the requests for approval today.
  • Lesher, who recently completed a Lancaster apartment project called Stadium Row, purchased the Stockyard Inn site in May for $3.65 million.
  • The site sits at 1147 Lititz Pike, not far from the city's train station.

What's next: Lesher expects the local approval process to take about 12 months.
  • If all goes as planned, he hopes to complete the project by late 2023 or early 2024.
  • SDL Devco is working with regional landscape architect firm RGS Associates, Lancaster-based Douglas Charles Phillips Architect, regional law firm Barley Snyder and construction management firm Pelger Engineering & Construction in Lititz.
  • The apartments would be a mix of units, from studios to three-bedrooms, Lesher said.
  • He would like to make at least 20% of the units affordable for people making 60% of the area median income. Affordable is defined as costing no more than 30% of a person's income.
  • "The city is very interested in it," Lesher said, adding that he is talking with foundations and other groups on a financing plan.

 


Is there demand: Yes, said Lesher. "I think we just don't know how much because there hasn't been a lot of new product in and around the city in a long time."
  • Multiple projects are in the works, however. So while demand may remain strong, Lesher said he expects the market to be more competitive.
  • A pool and clubhouse are an example of extra amenities he hopes can draw tenants to The Yards, in addition to its proximity to downtown Lancaster and the train station.
 

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Quick takes



WHO'S LOOKING FOR PLASTIC: The Alliance to End Plastic Waste and the Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration. The two organizations are teaming up to open a plastic recycling facility at 390 Eberts Lane in York. The 14,000-square-foot plant is slated to begin production in October and reach full capacity by January, according to Ross Gibby, COO of the Center for Regenerative Design, which is based in Costa Rica. He declined to share the cost of the plant.
  • The plant will make a concrete additive called RESIN8 using mixed plastic waste from a variety of sources, Gibby wrote.
  • The sources include plastics fished out of rivers and streams by environmental groups; films and flexible packaging from a municipal recycling pant outside Philadelphia; rigid plastics from a big-box retailer; and high-density polyethylene buckets from an ultraviolet ink supplier, according to Gibby.
  • The center also operates a household recycling program called The Bag That Builds, which takes plastic that is not typically recycled.
  • The York plant will employ six to 10 people to start, Gibby added.
  • If all goes well, the center will look to open a larger facility of around 25,000 to 30,000 square feet, Gibby said.

The background: The Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration was founded in 2018 with the goal of converting plastic waste into RESIN8, which is designed to make concrete lighter or stronger, depending on how it's used.
  • The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a nonprofit based in Singapore. Its backers include companies like Dow, ExxonMobil, Honeywell and water utility Suez, according to its website
  • Companies that generate plastic are increasingly being asked to pay for its disposal or recycling under policies known as "extended producer responsibility."
 


WHO'S BUYING: Baker Tilly. The Chicago-based accounting giant is planning to acquire Arnett Carbis Toothman, a West Virginia-based accounting firm with offices in western Pennsylvania. Terms of the deal, expected to take effect on Nov. 1, were not disclosed.
  • Baker Tilly is one of the largest accounting firms active in Central Pennsylvania. It has offices in Harrisburg, Lancaster and York, as well as other towns and cities across the state.
  • Arnett Carbis has Pennsylvania offices in Meadville, New Castle and Pittsburgh.
 
 


WHO'S MERGING: Camp Hill EMS. The Cumberland County ambulance company has agreed to become part of Penn State Health Life Lion, the regional EMS service operated by Penn State Health. The agreement, which takes effect this fall, brings four full-time and 15 part-time employees into the Penn State Health fold, according to a press release from the Dauphin County-based health system. Penn State plans to continue housing an EMS unit at the Camp Hill Fire Co., the Camp Hill ambulance service's longtime parent.
  • Small, nonprofit ambulance companies have struggled financially for years. They are increasingly likely to roll up into health systems or other large entities.
 


WHAT FELL: Pennsylvania's civilian labor force, defined as the number of state residents working or looking for work. The labor force shrank by roughly 7,000 people between July and August, largely due to a drop of 6,000 people from the unemployment rolls, according to figures from the Department of Labor & Industry
  • The state of Pennsylvania's workforce has been an issue for months as businesses struggle to find enough workers to maintain operations. Restaurants have been particularly hard hit.
  • The unemployment rate keeps falling -- it dropped to 6.4% in August from 6.5% in July. However, there are still fewer people in the labor force than there were before Covid-19 struck in March 2020.
  • Observers have attributed the reduced workforce to a variety of factors, from continued fear of Covid-19 to a lack of adequate child care to the cushion of extra jobless pay from the federal government.
  • One factor is now out of the equation: the extra jobless pay expired earlier this month.
  • But another factor may be coming into play, namely, concern that employers will require vaccinations.

 
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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

 
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