SUNBURY - The Housing Authority of Northumberland County, already working with municipalities on an ambitious plan to reduce the number of blighted properties countywide by 30 percent in three years, is now offering businesses a chance to help fight blight and earn a tax credit for it.

The authority has invited businesses to a informational session on investing in communities in the county to address the problem of blighted properties and a program that will provide an opportunity to receive a 75 percent state tax credit for municipalities' contributions, according to Edward Christiano, executive director of the housing authority.

The meeting will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at the Edison Hotel, 401 Market St., Sunbury.

The Housing Authority of Northumberland County, in cooperation with the county commissioners, state Sen. John Gordner (R-27) and state Reps. Kurt Masser (R-107) and Linda Schlegel Culver (R-108), convened a task force in the spring to study the issue of blighted properties. A meeting with local governments was held recently, where there is a commitment on the part of county and local governments to ratchet up their efforts to address blight.

A number of the recommendations from the task force relate to policy changes that will need to be made by local and county governments. Since a number of recommendations will require funding, a plan has been developed to pursue $3 million in public and private funding to acquire, rehabilitate or demolish blighted properties.

The goal is to raise $250,000 in private contributions toward this effort in 2013.

The Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) was established in 1967 and is administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). The state tax credit is available to companies that provide contributions to non-profit organizations in distressed areas for a variety of community development activities. In the current fiscal year, $18 million is available in tax credits under this program. Money, goods or services may be contributed in exchange for the tax credit.

The applications are submitted to DCED in the fall of each year. The maximum contribution from a business is $500,000 annually toward an approved project. Commitment letters from businesses are usually obtained to file with the application for the tax credits. The commitment letter is usually conditioned on the approval of the tax credits. The application, which is prepared by the non-profit organization receiving the contribution from the business, is more likely to be approved if the application is accompanied by the commitment letters.

Tax credits may be applied against the following state taxes: Corporate Net Income Tax, Bank and Trust Company Shares Tax, Mutual Thrift Institutions Tax, Capital Stock-Franchise Tax, Insurance Premiums Tax and Title Insurance Companies Share Tax

For the program under consideration in Northumberland County the credit would be 75 percent of the contribution amount. The balance may be written off as a charitable contribution.

When the non-profit organization receives an approval letter for the project from the state, the business firm will need to apply for the tax credits by Dec. 31 in the year the contribution is made.

Tax credits may be carried forward for up to five years.

Businesses may elect to sell or assign all or part of the tax credit; however, the purchaser/assignee of the tax credits must used the credits in the year the sale/assignment takes place.