Sunday, September 25, 2011
Do We Really Need to Give Chrin a Tax Break - Part Three
Before Charles Chrin, Howard Seiple was the largest landowner in Northampton County. A farmer, his tracts extended into four different townships.
After he died, much of this property was sold to developers, who built McMansion after McMansion on what was once verdant farmland. That puts tremendous pressure on school districts, who must educate the children without getting enough money in taxes. It's also a drain on municipal government, which must maintain the infrastructure and provide emergency services to what was once quiet farmland.
Charles Chrin purchased 689 acres from the Seiple Estate. Unlike other developers, he's avoided the residential development temptation. I doubt this is altruism. Chrin knows he can make more money with an industrial park.
But it's still infinitely preferable to another housing development, or a 420-unit apartment complexe. It will increase the tax base, reducing the burden of everyone else. The Chrin TIF will allow him to defer the increase in taxes so he can use that money to finance a Route 33 interchange that will draw business.
As I've told you many times, I'm no fan of corporate welfare or Chrin. But this is no handout. It benefits everyone. No risk is assumed. In the middle of a recession, it could produce thousands of jobs.
Dave Colver, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Palmer Township, is the person who persuaded me that this TIF is necessary. Here's what he told Northampton County Council's Finance Committee last week.
I'm Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Palmer, but I'm here representing all five board members. This was a unanimous decision to opt in. There was no dissension. We have been in favor of this project in general, and the TIF project all along. So all five board members are completely backing this project.
We're all in the same boat - the Township, School District and the County. We need money to operate. We can only deal with tax increases so much. In Palmer, we have looked at the north end of the Township as the way to offset some of that future tax base down the road in the future.
Let's face it, this is not a quick thing. This is not gonna' fix it in three to five years. There's no money coming off of this in the first five years. Everybody gets what they've been getting for farmland. We get about $15,000 on all that land up there. That's it. We can continue to get that $15,000, you folks can continue to get your $25,000, we can all go home and forget about it and Charlie can plant corn. Game over.
Our concerns. Zoning. Our comprehensive plan for every ten years - we're doing a new one now - past twenty years has looked at the north end development and an interchange to handle the infrastructure. We cannot develop the north end of that Township without an interchange, period. There's just no way to do it with the traffic, everything, that's needed in that area. So we have ... my successors [he means predecessors] ... I've only been there 1 or 14 years ... but my successors looked at that as the way to develop the north end. This is a way to make it happen.
The need for the interchange is imminent. The Township will not let, and the developer has pledged, no residential development, period. The Township will not allow it. We're controlling the zoning. No Bog Boxes. We're not gonna' see the million, two million square feet under roof, with twenty or thirty people operating forklifts so that the trucks can run around the clock and get on an interchange. Not gonna' happen. We control it.
We've got a developer who is willing to work with the Township and who is not looking for residential or the Big Box development.
We looked at the exposure. What exposure is Palmer Township, the County and the school district have with this? If it all fails, if it falls flat, is there any tax dollars that Palmer, the school district could be resonsible [for]? As you've heard, in the whole discussion prior to me, it's all being funded - the TIF is being funded - through the increase in the buildings. The taxes? It falls back on the Neighborhood Improvement District, which at this time is the property owner and anyone who would purchase in the future. And if that fails, it's the bondholders. There is zero risk. None. Find it, tell us what the risk is? There is none.
This is a way for all three of us to work together. It's not too often the County, the school district and the local municipality cross paths on a project that comes together to do something with zero risk for the betterment that could create two to three to four thousand jobs over the next eight - ten - twelve years.
My Board voted unanimously for it. he School District, as you heard, voted 6-1 in favor of it. I hope you folks at this Committee level, and when we get to County Council, at the County level, will see the merits of this project and support it unanimously. It's a good project. It's good for the County as a whole, and it brings jobs, it brings construction, all these ancillary things.
We're talking about 689 acres. There's another couple hundred acres outside of this district right there in Tatamy, Stockertown, Lower Nazareth, Forks. Everybody gets the benefit of this interchange.