Friday, March 30, 2012

Allentown Hides NIZ Local Tax Reports From Palmer Tp

Chris Christman
When you ask someone for a copy of a report, and he denies it even exists, that should pretty much end the matter. But what if you later discover that there really is a report? In fact, what if there are 96 of them? Wouldn't that make you think twice about the honesty of the person who answered your initial question?

Well, that's what happened to Palmer Township, when it requested some information from Allentown about the NIZ. Let me break it down for you.

Back on February 2, Township Manager Chris Christman asked Allentown, in a Right-to-Know request,  to produce its NIZ local tax reports. They would include a schedule listing the amounts of EIT collected for employees who work within the Neighborhood Improvement Zone, but live in Palmer Township.

Christman even attached a sample copy of Allentown's own schedule.

After hitting Christman with a thirty day extension, Allentown finally answered, on March 12, that it had no such  records.

But that's baloney.

The very next day, Christman filed a Right-to-Know Request with the State Department of Revenue. He attached a letter from the Secretary of Revenue reporting that a whopping $1,124,223.76 in local taxes was collected from businesses within Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone during 2011.

The Secretary of Revenue, incidentally, was relying on 96 NIZ local tax reports supplied by Allentown. The very NIZ reports that Allentown denied it possessed. Apparently, there are 316 "qualified" businesses within the NIZ, more than three times the number that Allentown Finance Director Garrett Strathearn reported to the combined Tax Collection Committees of Northampton and Lehigh Counties.

Obviously, someone in Allentown is hiding something, denying it has records that were in fact provided to the Department of Revenue.

As you might have guessed, Christman's request is under "legal review."

Maybe Senator Browne has them. ... or his wife.

Under Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know law, a Court may impose a $1500 penalty when an agency denes access to a record in bad faith.

Palmer Township's Board of Supervisors held an executive session at their Tuesday meeting this week. Unfortunately, Chairman Dave Colver was absent, or I suspect they would have voted to join Hanover, Bethlehem and Lower Saucon Township's legal challenge to Allentown's tax grab.  I say this because Palmer Township has been getting the stonewall.

Or lies.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Wanted to pass this along,

A group of Municipalities have filed a Lawsuit against the State regarding the new drilling Law.
Check it out, Thank You.

zoid said...

Why is it that it is the same result every time for everyone, stonewalled. I will say again, Browne stated that the EIT is not needed for the project it will generate enough money on it's own so then don't take it and this whole conflict disappears and they can do whatever and however they want.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Correct. As stated several times by Mayor Pawlowski, Sen, Browne, etc. the funds from other municipalities probably are not even needed. I'll take them at their word.

Now then, they couldn't possibly make such statement unless they have run actual numbers that demonstrate their claim. Two questions . . .

Why can't the affected parties SEE those numbers?

Why is the Allentown mayor, and others, clinging so tightly to those potential funds?

Most folks just want to know what they are buying and how much. Zoid is right. The EIT component could have been shelved already to avoid some of this. Too late! The issue will now be evaluated well beyond the Lehigh Valley.

Will the Morning Call get around to outlining these numbers for its readers, or will it continue to publish "spin," as it once again did on today's front page?

Anonymous said...

The MCall is in the NIZ. What do they say their EIT is? They are one of the larger entities.

How does their EIT hit municipalities? For, example how much relates to Hanover?

Anonymous said...

People should not be worrying about Hanover, Bethlehem Township, Lower Saucon or the others who will joing the suit.

The worry is the potential "tax grab" Senator Browne's legislation opens throughout the state.

Browne and Obama, Pawlowski & Fleck all have two things in common: 1. redistribute wealth and 2. rob Peter to pay Paul.

Anonymous said...

10:30,

... and Easton's Panto. They are all coming for free money. Browne turned out to be a real rat to taxpayers. He and his wife should be investigated.

zoid said...

Don't forget Johnny Casino, he is a lifer pol, he should go back to selling Viagra for Pfizer where he came from, stay the hell away from Norco. Why isn't the City of Bethlehem jumping up and down about this tax grab given their population, they certainly cannot afford to have any money taken away from them, Johnny will have to keep playing his shell game. I do not agree that Panto belongs with this disgusting bunch, yea he tends to hang with the party but in the end I think he is a stand up guy and tries to do the right things unlike Eddy and Johnny!

Anonymous said...

Your blog has opened my eyes to the number of competent professionals that represent the staff and elected boards of many of these suburban Townships. As an Allentown resident I get jaded against local officials, being served by career politicians, patronage hack staff hires and ineffective, underqualified elected officials such as Frank Concannon.

This guy Christman seems like yet another pretty sharp suburban professional employee. Nice job.

Bernie O'Hare said...

We are very fortunate. In the boroughs, they work even harder, and for less money.

Doc Rock said...

Re: Retired AD teacher...

My guess is that the EIT is a "safety valve" for the inevitable cost overruns of the Arena project. To be fair, costs can balloon for perfectly innocent and unanticipated reasons as well as for reasons that could have been controlled.

My concern is that a way will be "found" to spend the EIT even if no cost overruns occur.

zoid said...

I agree Doc once they get it we will never see it again that for 30 years.

Monkey Momma said...

If Browne, Pawlowski and others couldn't even predict the uproar in neighboring townships, what makes anyone think they have the business acumen to predict demand for hockey and entertainment in downtown Allentown? The folks "in charge" are either totally stupid or completely corrupt. I suspect it is some combination of the two.

Monkey Momma said...

If Browne, Pawlowski and others couldn't even predict the uproar in neighboring townships, what makes anyone think they have the business acumen to predict demand for hockey and entertainment in downtown Allentown? The folks "in charge" are either totally stupid or completely corrupt. I suspect it is some combination of the two.

Anonymous said...

It is very disheartening to me to continuously see in print the false statements that 1) only NEW earned income taxes will be hijacked 2) and that all the outlying municipalities's stolen money will be returned in 9 months.

Both of these statements are made either because the speaker is ignorant of the facts or because they are completely aware of the truth and are decieving and lying theives.

I beg you Bernie, and all the less brave print reporters, to not accept these quotes as fact and to challenge whomever spouts such garbage to cite the section of the law that supports their statement. If they try to claim that the law is unlcear or hard to interpret please ask them to not make statemnets about something they do not understand. Then have a fifth grader read the law and get a straight answer.

(Sorry for the anger, but they are getting ridiculous! The people need to stand up and make them accountable.)

Anonymous said...

Adding to my last cooment.

An acceptable source of fact for a speaker is not "Senator Browne says" or "the Mayor says". What does the law say? That is what matters.

Anonymous said...

When is it time for the District Attorney or the State Attorney General to start asking questions? This is a serious question. Has this risen to a level that deserves criminal investigation?

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I don't think there's anything criminal here. Foolish, slimy behavior for sure.

These types of things take place when the usual checks and balances are missing. We're seeing more and more of it, particularly on the national level. Journalism is very suspect.

Allentown is ripe for the taking. Its citizens are mostly poor, uninformed, or lazy. The demographic in surrounding townships and boroughs is much more likely to question issues that affect them. Thus, the recent lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Quit your bellyaching.

Quit your bitching.

Buy lots of tickets to the magnificent $ 160.0 million dollar Palace of Sport NOW.

Or else!

FUTURE DOWNTOWN ARENA ATTENDEE

Anonymous said...

ASD,
"Its citizens are mostly poor, uninformed, or lazy. The demographic in surrounding townships and boroughs is much more likely to question issues that affect them. Thus, the recent lawsuit"
I respectfully say BS.
This scam was mounted byback room deals that only a select few crooks even knew about.
When this horror was breached nobody was able (so far) to stop them. If we city folks are so ignorant, then why haven't more intelligent minds prevailed?
This is way past sleazy.