Good morning. Thirteen candidates took the stage at Dickinson College last night in the first debate among people who want to be the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor. Questions focused on the state's population decline, its response to Covid-19 and energy policy. The primary is just over five months away, with the winner expected to face Democrat Josh Shapiro.
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Sales-tax provision on the chopping block

A state lawmaker wants to erase requirements that businesses pay sales taxes in advance.
  • The idea has come up in the past, said the lawmaker, state Rep. Jesse Topper, a Republican who represents Fulton County, as well as portions of Bedford and Franklin counties.
  • But now is the time to act, with state revenues coming in above estimates and federal dollars padding the state budget this year, Topper said in an interview.
  • “If there was ever a good year to repeal it, this would be it,” he said, noting that the move would help businesses still wrestling with the economic impact of COvid-19

Why does timing matter: The repeal would mean a temporary loss of revenue from sales-tax prepayments -- known as accelerated sales tax prepayments and due under guidelines set by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.
Would a repeal help: Yes according to Michael Eby, a partner in the tax services group at accounting and professional services firm RKL LLP.
  • “It’s been a terrible hassle for many businesses, more so in the beginning, but I still see companies struggling with the compliance,” Eby wrote in an email.

The background: State tax collections have been running above estimates for most of the fiscal year that began in July.
  • For the general fund as a whole, collections stood at nearly $22.6 billion as of the end of December, above the estimate of $20.8 billion, according to the Independent Fiscal Office.
  • Sales taxes so far this fiscal year total just over $6 billion, above the estimate of $5.6 billion.   

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Quick takes

WHAT'S TAKING HOLD: The Conrad Co. That's the name of a new holding company unveiled yesterday by Penn-Air & Hydraulics Corp., a growing manufacturing services company based in Springettsbury Township, York County. The holding company encompasses PennAir, a company acquired by PennAir in 2019 and three other companies acquired since then, according to Seth Bray, the CEO of PennAir and also CEO of The Conrad Co.
  • The name of the holding company comes from the founders of PennAir, Jim and Mary Conrad, Bray said in a phone interview. The Conrads started the company in 1968.
  • The idea for the holding company is to allow the company's individual brands to stand out more clearly, Bray said.
  • "It's really just about having specific brands that focus on specific segments within the industry that we can grow," he said.

What brands: There is the original company, PennAir, as well as the acquired companies.
  • The 2019 acquisition was of a company called Advanced Lubrication Systems, which now operates as GreasePoint Engineered Lubrication.
  • The more-recent additions are Hanover-based Hanover Conveying Systems; Westminster, Maryland-based Compressor Maintenance Co.; and Hellam-based Allied Hydraulic Service Co
  • The holding company overall employs 110 people and did more than $45 million in revenue last year, an increase of roughly 50%, Bray said, adding that similar growth is expected this year.

WHAT SOLD: Olde Liberty Square, an office development in the 4800 block of Jonestown Road in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County. New York-based Empire Liberty Square LLC paid $16 million for the property in a deal that closed at the end of 2021, according to Dauphin County deed records. The seller was Room One Corp., whose executives include Glen R. Sponaugle, according to county records.
  • Room One bought the property -- a collection of four tracts at 4807, 4811, 4813 and 4815 Jonestown Road -- in March 2020 for $14.6 million, according to county records.
  • The complex contains medical offices, staffing agencies, financial services companies and others.
  • Bo Mangam of Landmark Commercial Realty represented the buyer. Matthew Wolf and Rob Holland of The Kislak Company were the listing agents for the property.

WHO'S BUYING: Moove In Self Storage. The York County-based company expanded its local holdings with the purchase last year of Back 9 Storage on West Market Street in Jackson Township, York County. The real estate -- lots at 4844 and 4846 W. Market St. -- was purchased for $3.34 million by NSA Property Holdings LLC, an arm of National Storage Affiliates Trust. Moove In is one of 10 regional operators for National Storage, according to George Hoglund, a spokesperson for the Colorado-based real estate investment trust.
  • Hoglund declined via email to comment on specific transactions but said regional operators typically find properties, co-invest in them and manage them for a fee.
  • The purchase of Back 9 adds more than 210 storage units to the Moove In portfolio
  • The company also recently bought a property in Massachusetts with more than 650 storage units. Terms of that transaction were not disclosed.
  • Moove In operates more than 40 self-storage facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts.


WHO'S MAKING NEWS: Ron Martin. The former news anchor for TV station WGAL has joined York County-based Inch & Co. Real Estate as a real estate agent. Martin, who lives in Spring Garden Township, York County, retired from WGAL in 2020 after 37 years.

  • Inch & Co. Real Estate -- an arm of development company Inch & Co. -- is based in the former Elmwood Mansion at 400 Belmont Ave. in Spring Garden. 


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Compiled and written by Joel Berg

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