Friday, January 27, 2012
Most LV Legislators Blindsided By Allentown Tax Grab
That's what one local state rep. told me concerning the NIZ legislation drafted in 2009 by Senator Pat Browne, which was tucked deep inside a Fiscal Code Update. Most of them had little or no idea it was even in there, and certainly were unaware of changes in how EIT is collected.
Browne is reportedly meeting with LV state representatives next week.
But one State Rep. who did know, at least about the NIZ, is Julie Harhart. She actually voted against this legislation in 2009, which is contrary to what I told you earlier this week.
"The vote on House Bill 1614 (Act 50 of 2009) which you are referring to was a procedural vote," ahe explains. "The vote that counts was the final passage vote on House Bill 1614 and on that vote I voted no." (Emphasis added).
According to Harhart, the NIZ was slipped into the bill, when it came back from the Senate to the House for concurrence. "That is when the language was inserted," she explains.
The sole LV Republican who supported this Fiscal Code update was Karen Beyer. All LV Democrats supported it, not because they even knew about the NIZ, but because they supported the budget of a Democratic Governor.
In the Senate, Lisa Boscola was opposed, while Browne supported legislation he had a hand in crafting.
When this legislation came up again, in a 2011 Fiscal Code update it was now the budget of a Republican governor. So LV Democrats naturally voted No, while LV Republicans naturally voted Yes.
In the Senate, Boscola was a Yes in what was a unanimous vote.
Why would Harhart oppose the NIZ in 2009 and support it in 2011? Although I have not spoken to her directly about this, State Rep. Marcia Hahn explains that three important changes were made to the NIZ.
First. If there are excess monies in the NIZ fund, the governing body of the zone must distribute this taxpayer money remaining money back to the State and then to the local municipalities.
Second. To insure that taxpayers receive the best possible interest rates, the Commonwealth pledge language was clarified.
Third: The bill limits the term of the bond financing to 30 years, even if they are refinanced.
While these changes certainly improve the NIZ from what it was in 2009, it still diverts EIT money. It still takes money due to other municipalities. This was done with absolutely no input from the townships, cities and boroughs directly affected. Worse, there is no analysis of the financial impact this ill have on surrounding municipalities.
"Is it $500? Is it $50,000? I don't know," explained Hanover Township Manager Jay Finnigan on Tuesday night.