March 02, 2015

Pa. Mayor Locked in Battle With Museum Over Rent and Taxes

The mayor of Harrisburg, Pa., who has been seeking to renegotiate a virtually rent-free lease for the city's National Civil War Museum agreed to by his predecessor, offered a new proposal in the dispute that would see the museum paying $633,000 a year by 2030, The Patriot-News of Harrisburg reports. Mayor Eric Papenfuse said Thursday he would compromise in a parallel fight over the museum's share of tax revenue if the institution starts paying a market rent for its city-owned building.

Under deals made with ex-Mayor Steve Reed, the nonprofit-run museum pays $1 a year in rent and receives the majority of city hotel-tax dollars aimed to boost tourism. Mr. Papenfuse wants to shift more of that revenue to marketing other Harrisburg venues and events.

Under the mayor's latest lease proposal the museum would pay $183,000 this year. Payments would rise by $30,000 for 15 years to reach $633,000, the property's value as assessed by museum-hired auditors. The museum has said it can't afford more than $1 in rent and that it generates nearly $6-million in local economic activity annually.