Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Will Senator Pat Browne Revise NIZ Law?

The Governor's office has agreed that the statutory framework creating Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) is, indeed, unconstitutional. It is special legislation designed to benefit Allentown, and only Allentown.

The 2009 law establishing the NIZ, defines "City" as any "city of the third class with, on the effective date of this section, a population of at least 106,000 and not more than 107,000, based on the 2000 Federal decennial census."

That could only be Allentown.

As one of my readers pointed out yesterday, Governor Corbett has recently vetoed similarly worded legislation. He nixed a legislative moratorium on countywide reassessments limited to counties of the fourth class, with a population between 185,000 and 210,000 as of the 2010 United States Census.

This could only be Washington County.

In both cases, it is unconstitutional special legislation.

Senator Pat Browne, who previously had been telling everyone that the NIZ law would pass constitutional scrutiny, is now scurrying to make changes to a law he previously said could not be changed.

He might expand the definition of the NIZ so that it includes a few other cities. While he's at it, he might remove the controversial EIT tax grab.

But Senator Browne is no longer trusted by municipal tax officials.

Betty Parrish, Upper Nazareth's Earned Income Tax Officer, fired off an email to fellow tax collectors in Northampton County's Tax Collection Committee yesterday: "I have been told that Sen Brown [sic] may attempt an 'end-run' in the NIZ litigation by seeking to amend Act 50 so that the unconstitutional aspect of the law is removed. I suggest you alert our State Reps to this possibility and see if they can assist in thwarting this effort."

Although I'm reluctant to characterize Senator Browne's action as an "end run," it's clear that an expanded definition or even a surrender on the EIT will still leave surrounding municipalities with the poaching problem.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

The world wants to know, What is Charlie Dents take on all this. It is in his District and Allentown is his biggest city. So what is our congreemans opinion?

He has been very, very quiet and no one seems to be asking him his opinion.

Things that make you go HMMM!

Anonymous said...

Charlie who? Follow the yellow brick road (money trail) and the answer can be found.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,

Simmons also announced that the NIZ law couldn't be changed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"What is Charlie Dents take on all this. It is in his District and Allentown is his biggest city. So what is our congreemans opinion?"

Congressmen generally stay out of these types of issues. If they inject themselves, they are often perceived as injecting themselves in territory where they don't belong, and that is resented. And politically, it is unwise. So I think it's unwise for Dent, Daugherty, Cartwright or whomever, to stake out a position on the NIZ.

Sae representative, who should be staking out positions, are running from it. I a disappointed in all of them, both incumbents and candidates, from running from something in which they should be involved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Simmons also announced that the NIZ law couldn't be changed."

Yes, he did. That is what he has been told, mistakenly, I believe.

Anonymous said...

nothing left but for the rats to jump ship.

zoid said...

Making the law constitutional is one thing but the raiding and poaching of LV businesses is still alive and we cannot let that happen. If they are going to change the law then also draw a 25 mile circle around the NIZ and local businesses are protected and we all go away and they can build whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Zoid. Perfectly said. No reason for any other comment by anyone on this issue. Your comment should just be repeated and repeated.

Making the law constitutional is one thing but the raiding and poaching of LV businesses is still alive and we cannot let that happen. If they are going to change the law then also draw a 25 mile circle around the NIZ and local businesses are protected and we all go away and they can build whatever they want.

Anonymous said...

Wow double standard Bernie....what happened to all your "leadership" comments about Dent. He has every right to weigh in and actually owes it to his constituents. During the last election cycle you ranted on Dent and how he leads from the front independent of political ramifications. I knew it was bullshit then and called you out. Now you say it’s politically savvy to remain above the fray. I call Bullshit……

Same for Cunningham, how can these people not move this along one way or the other. Allentown continues to falter and these guys take a pass!

Everyone knows I’m a Bethlehem guy, but Allentown has received much more revenue over the years than my home town, yet is in such bad shape. People denigrate Callahan yet can’t see the forest for the trees. Do you think this NIZ crap would happen if Bethlehem was involved, hell no. The legislature would have consensus and all ducks would be in a row BEFORE it came to this. Clear difference is leadership, or lack thereof in Allentown at all levels. From the Mayor to the congress, in the words of Lee Iacocca (Bethlehem educated) “where have all the leaders gone?”

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

Knock off the bullshit, Seamus. Federal candidates do not traditionally weigh in on primarily local issues. I expect Dent to take positions on national issues, and he does.

From time to time, there are local issues, and I try to get state officials to sound off. They always decline to do so publicly.

Aside from the obvious political reasons, it's actually good government. If feds get involved, they are over-reaching and sticking their noses where they don't belong.

I would not expect Rick Daugherty to take a position on this issue, either.

I do expect our state reps to take stands, but most of them are hiding. Those are the ones I fault.

I happen to agree that Don Cunningham and John Stoffa need to take stands as well. I've heard they both oppose the NIZ, or have concerns about it as crafted. They really should make their positions known. I credit Callahan and Panto for saying what they think publicly.

Anonymous said...

the only way the 25 mile circle for poaching makes a lick of sense is for the same to be applied to all programs that are used in PA to attract businesses to a new location. Why apply such a standard to the NIZ when all the other programs designed to draw businesses to a new location aren't forced to live by the same standard. It's nice to say "fine, go ahead and do that" but no legislator wants these programs to have such stipulations when it could impact his/her district.

zoid said...

TIF s and other such programs allow the property owners/developers to pay original property taxes while future assessments and taxes are postponed and used for infrastructure and things like that. They do not poach, rape and steal local EIT, state income taxes, tobacco taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, etc, etc. This is an animal with no clone and is dangerous not only to the Lehigh Valley but to the entire state as more of them are created. This has to go down as currently written so adverse effects are minimized to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Ha-HA. Protect old Charlie Dent. The guy was State Rep, Sate Senator and now very longtime Congressman representing the LV. Of course he should have an opinion. He is the unifying force, the voice of reason.

If this was a mothers march or a local veterans law from Harrisburg, old Charlie would be front and center.

You are covering for one of your biggest mancrushes O'Hare. You said it was politically unwise for Charlie to speak, that is true.

He is taking the cowardly way out hiding in his office. No profile in courage on this issue from Charlie, just a profile.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This comment is prompted more by your disdain for Dent (and me) than actual belief. It is nonsense. By your reasoning, we should expect Rick Daugherty and Matt Cartwright to have position papers.

I'm more concerned abut the people who really should be speaking out, but who are not.

Anonymous said...

I guess in my opinion Dent is not a "candidate" but a sitting congressman. To me it's about unifying his district. If this is in fact regionalism then make it known. If it’s a tax grab by one city, do likewise. We need people in power to drive the ship. The mayor needs input one way or the other.

This needs to be settled and there are only a few people with the ability to do so. If I was in Dent’s shoes I would call the parties together and say cut the shit. I would have all parties outline their positions and develop consensus. Ed can’t do this, he is powerless other than to try and “make deals”. The reality is a loss for Allentown here and now will have long lasting implications. What got us to this point should be understood better to keep it from happening again, that’s an academic understanding. The issue is we are where we are, where do we go from here?

I’m not a Pawlowski fan, I think the arena should have been in south Bethlehem this is clear. That all being said how do we save face now and move forward? I do not want to see Allentown fail that would be bad for all.

Seamus

Bernie O'Hare said...

Nobody wants Allentown to fail, but Pawlowski over-reached. he thinks that because he can get away with it in a one-arty town, he can do it everywhere. He is learning that he is not, as he thinks, in charge of the LV.

monkey momma said...

If a 25 mile radius is drawn, what happens to the already poached businesses that have agreed to move into the NIZ?

I still want to know more about the tobacco manufacturer that is moving into this zone. Did anyone ever get to the bottom of the white powder substance that was anonymously sent to them last summer?? And how strange they received that threatening package right when O'Reilly was probably trying to lure them into the NIZ.

These people are thugs and I think this town is being run by the mafia.

small business dude said...

Bernie is right about Dent. This is not a federal issue and he is a federal representative. It would be innappropriate for him to get involved.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It might actually be resented. If everyone got together and called on him to mediate, that would be different. But that has not happened.

Anonymous said...

Could be a big feather in someones cap if they would take the lead...

Seamus

Anonymous said...

I agree he wrenched this bad, but with that recognition, now what?

Seamus

Anonymous said...

How can you tell a business it can't move into a 25 mile exclusion zone? Talk about unconstitutional.

And yes, TIF etc are intended to do the same as the NIZ. They create zones of special benefits. Stop all of them.

Doc Rock said...

Anonymous said,

"How can you tell a business it can't move into a 25 mile exclusion zone? Talk about unconstitutional."

Programs like TIF, KOZ, etc. usually have "deliverables" associated with them. That is, it is typically the tenant/end user that gets the incentive. Those incentives are usually tied to performance metrics like new jobs created, new taxes geenrated and so forth.

The NIZ legislation pays all the subsidies to the developer(s), not the tenants/end users. And, the NIZ has no performance metrics.

So, whether the NIZ creates ZERO new jobs or 10,000, Reilly, Butz, Topper and Jaindl pocket the cash.

It is likely that no Reilly, Butz, Topper or Jaindl family member will pay any state or local income taxes over the next 30 years. Instead, those taxes will go directly toward paying the debt on their buildings in the NIZ. And they will get to keep the profits.

Sweet deal!

small business dude said...

Doc Rock

I was in a KOZ about 10 or so years ago and didnt have to do a single thing. It was a free tax reduction with absolutely no effort on my part. It was simply a gift from the tax payers for doing what I was already doing...running my business. Obviously I liked the free money, but it really was a waste of taxpayer money.

Bernie O'Hare said...

2:20,i'qd add that yiu let them in, but thry get no tax breaks.

Anonymous said...

Dent hides on the controversial issues. No Republican leadership memo on this one.

Quick find some veterans and seniors for a photo op or a citation.

O'Hare, you are great when you twist things for one of your guys.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry the Dummyrats are taking such a beating on this Palace of Sport deal.

Real sorry.

Anonymous said...

Charlie!! Was that you Charlie?? Hello!!!

Charlie???

FutureDowntownArenaAttendee said...

Very interesting that Bernie does not post an entry on how his "sources" from the governors office are wrong! Not only did the governor not say that he believes it is an unconstitutional legislation, he instructed his council to work out a settlement before he fights the bill.
Lets make this simple, if the Governor thought it was not a legal bill he would not waste his councils nor his time with negations. If he did think is was unconstitutional he would drop everything and concede to the lawsuit.

Once again Bernie's creditably takes a huge hit...

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're crazy. The Governor's office believes this is unconstitutional, but it is always better to negotiate. The letter to the TCC, referred to in this post, is additional proof that the people who insisted this law was fine are now scurrying to make changes.

Speaking of credibility, you have none and have been an object of derision to most blog readers.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
You and I know arbitration is always the lesser of the two evil, but if arbitration cannot settle it opps litigation begins. Than the years of court battles begin.