Friday, March 27, 2009

KOZ Coming Around Again to Fayette? Watch

They're not giving up on the Keystone Opportunity Zones in Easton?

Guess they have been reading on the glowing reports from the Governor's office, or from whatever economic development agency they use to siphon state grants to KOZ projects and support for projects located in a KOZ.

We don't have to wonder whether the same will be tried for Fayette - either before the earliest KOZs automatically expire, some in 2010, or later. Or maybe there will be proposals for new KOZs in even more property the local economic development agency purchases and owns.

Look who said his third top-priority would be to 'eliminate' KOZs because he agreed with other locals these were 'unfair,' 'not uniform according to PA Constitution, and 'unconstitutional.' Then, Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-51st) turned around within a few short months and voted for the Rendell budget and an accompanying bill which extended the KOZ program for the state. (See sidebar under KOZ)

Net the Truth Online

Easton mayor not giving up on Keystone Opportunity Zones
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The Express-Times
EASTON | Maybe the third time's the charm.

The city will take another shot at convincing the Easton Area School Board to approve tax-free Keystone Opportunity Zones for a trio of redevelopment projects.

Mayor Sal Panto Jr. said he spoke to some of the school board members who voted against the KOZ legislation last week. They agreed to meet with him tonight to talk in more detail about the process, Panto said.

On Wednesday, city council approved legislation to create new KOZs and extend the lives of other existing tax-free zones. The city has been trying for months to include the Pomeroy's building, the former Mount Vernon Ale House and the silk mill property on North 13th Street in the KOZ.

Council agreed to a handful of changes to make the KOZs more palatable to school board members, including eliminating residential development from the designation. Council also eliminated the earned income tax from the list of exempted taxes.

When council initially proposed creating the new KOZs, the city was to require a payment in lieu of taxes totaling 110 percent of a property's current real estate tax rate. A property owner will now make the payment in lieu of taxes for the entire 10-year period.

Property taxes on a redeveloped property will increase after reassessment.

Exemption from all state taxes, such as the capital gains tax, is what makes KOZ projects most attractive to corporations, Panto said.

Although city council supports KOZs, the mayor made his pitch Wednesday for why they are so important to the city.

Panto said a major developer expressed interest in the silk mill project but only with the KOZ. The city of Allentown is offering an Easton businessman, who'd like to open another business in the city, tax incentives, according to the mayor.

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