Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fayette Commissioners Informed Keystone Opportunity Zones May Extend Into New Decade

Update June 21, 2008

Looks like the state House passed the HB 2297 legislation which implements an extension of KOZ on undevelopmed properties. We've warned our Fayette board of commissioners this might be coming our way again.

As a short recap.

Commissioner Vincent Vicites has taken a position publicly over the course of a few years against KOZs for property zoned for residential housing and commercial.

Newcomer, and Chairman, Vincent Zapotosky made public comments on Bob Foltz radio program during campaigning last year that he did not support KOZ for residential housing developments.

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink has opposed tax exemptions and made a statement regarding them being unfair after a man spoke during the May 22, 2008 commissioners' business meeting that he was in support of tax breaks for the companies who were planning to build windmill turbines in the Fayette area.

We'll track further developments.

This is how the political game is played. Won't locate unless we're in a KOZ... is it another Fortune 500 Company seeking the tax exemption for 7 to 10 years?

PetSmart Inc. is eyeing the Valley View Business Park for a possible distribution center that could bring 663 jobs to the area.

A major hurdle still exists, however, as the company first wants the state to extend the Keystone Opportunity Zone designation, which gives tax incentives to relocating companies, for an additional seven years.

Net the Truth Online

News from the Pennsylvania General Assembly
By The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/07/2008 04:57:19 PM EDT

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: A program that offers tax breaks to companies that develop former industrial sites and other blighted areas would be expanded under a bill passed by the House 126-72. The measure would allow municipalities and school districts to extend the tax abatement period for undeveloped land within existing Keystone Opportunity Zones for at least seven years. The program was established under a 1999 state law. The bill goes to the Senate. (House Bill 2297)

Key Votes:
HB 2297: Expansion of the Keystone Opportunity Zone

Issues: Budget, Spending and Taxes, Business and Consumers, Housing and Property Issues
Date: 05/07/2008

This editorial aired on AM 1410 WLSH on Wednesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 22


pennsylvania bill 2297 keystone opportunity zones

HB 2297 PN 3702 susp mot rules


Referred to FINANCE, May 12, 2008

An Act amending the act of October 6, 1998 (P.L.705, No.92), known as the Keystone Opportunity Zone, Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone and Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone Act, providing for extension for unoccupied parcels, for additional subzones authorized, for substitution of parcels and for cap and trade; further providing for sales and use tax, for corporate net income tax, for local earned income, net profits and business privilege taxes and for local sales and use tax; and providing for recapture and for work performed...

The state House recently passed a bill designed to promote more redevelopment of former industrial land in Pennsylvania communities. The bill, HB 2297, is one component of Gov. Ed Rendell's economic stimulus package. It would extend and expand the Keystone Opportunity Zone program, which allows tax abatements for redevelopment of specifically designated idle or abandoned properties. The bill also extends the abatement period for another seven years to stimulate development in existing KOZ districts...

Update June 21, 2008

Recall state Rep. Tim Mahoney publicly agreed on Bob Foltz radio program that KOZs were unfair, not uniform according to PA Constitution, and unconstitutional..

Monday, September 10, 2007
Keystone Opportunity Zones unfair agrees state legislator Tim Mahoney

Post May 23, 2008 by Net the Truth Online

Friday, May 23, 2008
Windmills Tilting for Fayette Land?

Post about Special Commissioners' Meeting Discuss Explanation Budget Surplus less than expected

Post June 19, 2008 (after break from focus on local to national campaign blogging)

the board of Fayette County commissioners were informed at the public meeting May 22, 2008 that state legislation was in the works to extend and potentially expand the state's Keystone Opportunity Zone program.

Net the Truth Online blogger (namesless) approached the officials at the meeting during public comment occurring after the business meeting.

Noted were the expansion was part of Governor Ed Rendell's economic stimulus package for 2008.

Also noted was the co-sponsorship of state Rep. Peter Daley.

Mentioned was the fact of long-standing concerns and opposition to KOZs because the program treats taxpayers and residents differently, it's therefore unfair.

And not uniform according to PA Constitution and therefore unconstitutional.

Cited was the Springhill township KOZ site which years back sought a zoning change to expand a housing development project which would have included building even more than already planned houses ranging from $200,000 to $500,000.

The comments included mention that state legislators had been contacted in the past and currently, though no names were mentioned.

Noted was the fact many have stated they don't like the KOZs for housing and commercial projects.

The information was provided as a warning that an extension may be in the works and at some time in the near future an attempt be made to apply the extensions to undeveloped properties already designated KOZs.

the recommendation was for the board to be at the forefront and take the lead to prevent the extensions, especially for housing developments and commercial properties.

Windmill Project Public Input discussion Public Comment

(also see May 23, 2008 Windmills Tilting for Fayette Land? )

the next speaker spoke about supporting windmill companies if not able to build the windmill project where the current project has determined, build it elsewhere. The citizen stated he would be in favor of tax breaks or tax exemptions for the windmill companies...

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink responded... Everyone should be fair and equitable in regard to taxation. the state legislators come in and go out every couple of years... they should amend the PA Constitution as the tax exemption programs, any of them are in direct violation of it... doesn't make it right... she wouldn't be one who would ask to exempt a windmill company since that is not fair and equitable... have to make it up somewhere...

Speaker suggested wages be taxed.

Commissioner Zimmerlink said the county doesn't impose a wage tax...

Dan V... spoke in favor of the windmill project... environmental... energy production...

(John Joseph) windmills like landowners rights... taking rights away from landowners... not allowing the windmill...

Zimmerlink asked how is she taking rights away...

Joseph says we're talking about windmill project and setting precedents... and she spoke about setting precendents in other matter... he is of the belief the zoning board set precedents...

Zimmerlink said she was involved only in the lawsuit to make sure the zoning board didn't overstep bounds...

Vicites asked what about the impact what about those living within a few thousand feet of the windmills... what about the impact on them...

Josephs... doesn't see an impact the setbacks were double or triple what they should be so that precaution has been taken... these setbacks were set by county... if those were followed what's the impact... sees economic development and postitive for landowner to get something back from investment...

Commissioner Vicites again questioned the impact on others and said any who wanted to intevene should have made comments during the zoning hearing board hearing, before... not after the fact...

Zimmerlink supportive of individual property rights why said about taxing needs to be fair and equitable and any person should do what they want with their property as long as it doesn't negatively effect the health and well-being of others... not comfortable the zoning hearing board heard all aspects... that's why the intervention measure by two board members (Zapotosky and Zimmerlink)

Gary Williams not closed to project as a whole this can go forward ... everyone can benefit... wonderful pr opportunity for county... how taking step forward if allow something to be built so close to their homes that they are going to move out of the area... doesn't think these should be built so close to houses... don't want to sell... but forced to because these built so close... if zoning has to be changed... if it is changed and allows it change it for both of us... protect people who have to live near this... consider the setbacks of a few of these select turbines... thinks it can go forward.

Unidentified... opponent... 21 homes being built 2 are on hold... if we could get 7900 feet he'd be for this... PPM says only 100 decibals... like a swoosh, but what if it's a bang that doesn't sound so nice... mentioned bats there was testimony about bats... property values will go down... making that much noise that close to you... one of properties owns back taxes $8,000... a bad deal... turns over material... filed intervention too... just wants to save his own property if it's built 7900 feet from those few homes, he'd have no objections... says another state will get the electricity... run that wire from a house to the windmill...

Stoffler... opposed not against all of them one Turbine number 3 going to be in back of our yards... already as a transmission line ... if could move or relocte number three be satisfied... he gets no break on county taxes... just want number 3 moved and most of us will be satisfied... only one located near a good bunch of houses... plans open a B & B, spent income and life there... if had the bed and breakfast and a noisy wind turbine nearby would you sleep there... just get it moved...

woman... opposed had road paved concerns with trucks and people traveling that road and seeing how long it would take for state to cover cost of fixing road... restrictions on it... and should not have to use main road... safety issue for 9 homes come through constantly... not quiet any longer

Net the Truth Online


Commissioners Meetings Minutes

Monday, March 24, 2008
Full State Legislative Record Ignored in Article

Friday, March 14, 2008
PA: Keystone Opportunity Zones Expansion Sought as Expected

Prevailing wage requirement defeats purpose of Keystone Opportunity Zones

Thursday, May 8, 2008
HARRISBURG, PA – The incentives available to businesses that locate within a Keystone Opportunity Zone would be diminished if prevailing wage requirements remain in legislation (H.B. 2297) that would expand the program, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry said today.

"Expansion of prevailing wage would undermine the very purpose of Keystone Opportunity Zones, which is to encourage economic activity in underserved regions of the Commonwealth," said Gene Barr, PA Chamber vice president of government and public affairs.

Pennsylvania's Keystone Opportunity Zone program was enacted in 1998, with additional zones created in 2001, 2003 and 2004. The zones offer property owners, residents and businesses greatly reduced or no tax burden for a period of 10 years.

With the first of the zones set to expire this year, the General Assembly is looking to extend the program. On Tuesday, May 6, the House adopted an amendment on second consideration that would require all future public works projects undertaken within a KOZ be subject to the prevailing wage. The House passed the bill, with the prevailing wage amendment, on Wednesday, May 7.

Prevailing wage rates can add up to 30 percent to the cost of school district and municipal capital projects. Barr said similar cost add-ons could be expected for projects undertaken within opportunity zones.

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