The Morning Call's breathless swooning over Allentown's vaunted hockey arena and the accompanying NIZ to reporting straight out of Pravda or Izvestia. But this Sunday's story, penned by Comrades Scott Kraus and Matt Assad, might cost them their party memberships. We've now learned that EIT for any people employed in the Queen City's Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ), regardless where they happen to live, will first go into a fund to pay for the arena and other improvements at the site.
Let me explain how EIT is supposed to work. You file an income tax form with your local municipality - just like you do with the state and the federal government. You pay your local income tax to your municipality regardless of where you earned it. Exceptions have been made by the legislature for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but they don't apply to the rest of the mere mortals in the Commonwealth.
The collection and remittance of EIT by the host municipality and then the remittance of EIT back to the municipality where the employee lives was done as a matter of convenience for employees. Act 32, passed a few years ago, establishes county by county collection committees who hire a single agent to collect EIT and distribute to all eligible municipalities based on where the employee lives.
Except now, it seems the NIZ is trumping Act 32 and all other acts that preceded it, including local municipal ordinances establishing the collection of EIT. No one told any municipality that their EIT was going to be "held hostage" by the NIZ to see if it is needed before it is remitted. It's safe to say this will create chaos for municipal budgets.
Senator Browne, who wrote this legislation, gave The Morning Call explanations that are imperious and dismissive at best and disingenuous at worst. The Senator, incidentally, has no intention of seeking re-election when his term expires in the next two years. That way, he can be paid directly by the blue bloods from both parties who support screwing other municipalities to support Allentown.
Increasingly, it's becoming clear that Allentown's NIZ is a bizzaro world Sherwood Forest. But Governor Wannabe Ed Pawlowsi is a Robin Hood in reverse. He robs from the poor and gives to the rich.
Let's review the NIZ "success story," shall we? Five "new" tenants, all poached from somewhere else in the Lehigh Valley. Now the City of Bethlehem finds out they are not only competing on an uneven playing field, but are also helping to subsidize Allentown's development with their EIT, too.
This manipulation of tax policy, government subsidy and regulation of free market forces would make any self-respecting Robin Hood, Socialist, Marxist, Bolshevik or Leninist blush with embarrassment. They justified sharing of the wealth as a way to help the working classes gain parity and equity versus the wealthy. Somehow Allentown and Pat Browne got it mixed up.
Instead of textbooks for Allentown's distressed schools, the "goodies" thrown into the pot will benefit developers like Reilly and Butz - and probably Jim Petrucci at some point in the not too distant future. After all, Petrucci's LV right hand man - Tom Shaughnessy - is on the ACIDA Board. All he has to do is recuse himself when the subject of generous financing for his boss comes to the Board for a vote.
In addition to those guys, look at some of Robin Pawlowski's Band of Merry Men.
Traffic Planning and Design Inc. They are represented by a Montgomery County attorney and Dem who has raised Ed about $100K.
Land Development Services. T and M Associates, represented by Pawlowski campaign manager Mike Fleck.
Of course, the supposed justification for what blogger Michael Molovinsky correctly calls a Shell Game is that this helps the urban core, and those benefits will trickle down to surrounding municipalities.
Where have we heard that before?
For years, we've been strengthening Allentown's urban core with state grans and KOZs. We put up canopies along Hamilton Street to strengthen the urban core. Just as suddenly, we ripped them down to help the urban core. Allentown is still a death star that is now even sucking tax revenues intended for other municipalities.