A disagreement over a tax abatement has prompted the Trinity Area School District to pass on renewing its contract at Consol Energy Park.
Trinity has used Consol Energy Park–home of the Washington Wild Things (independent; Frontier League) and National Pro Fastpich’s Pennsylvania Rebellion–as a home field for high school baseball. In return for using the field, the district has issued a tax abatement on the ballpark property to the Wild Things owners, the Williams family. The Williams family purchased the Consol Energy Park from Ballpark Scholarships Inc.–a tax-exempt nonprofit–in 2011.
Claiming that the abatement has become too lopsided in favor of the ballpark’s owner, Trinity says it has issued $280,255 in returns since the agreement was reached. However, Wild Things owner Stu Williams says that the arrangement is fair and common in other communities. More from the Observer-Reporter:
He said ownership, which was aware of Trinity’s financial issues, offered to pay a portion of the taxes, but Trinity declined to negotiate.
“We try to be as good a neighbor as we can be to anybody and everybody in the community,” said Williams. “Tax abatement is pretty common. If you have a huge asset in your community, the tax abatement is an incentive.”
David Roussos, Trinity’s director of fiscal services, argued the contract is not a tax abatement.
“These were contracts for the rental of the fields and (The Wild Things) received payments that the district has determined it would be fiscally irresponsible to continue with. It cannot be justified.”
[Superintendent Michael] Lucas also said he was surprised and disappointed to learn other school districts were being charged a significantly lower rate to use the field than Trinity.
Williams disagreed, however, and said estimates that the Trinity baseball team paid more than $4,000 per game to play on the Wild Things field over the past half-decade were not accurate.
Trinity is still looking into other options for the 2017 high school baseball season.