The Parkland School District is working to determine just how the Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) in Allentown will affect the district.
Attorney C. Steven Miller gave the school board a brief overview concerning the NIZ.
“[We are not sure of] the potential impact that may occur on Parkland School District,” said Superintendent Richard Sniscak “We’re still studying the impact that it will have on the financial impact for the school district.”
The 1% earned income tax of those who work in the NIZ, a section of downtown Allentown near the hockey arena, will be staying within the zone to help pay for revitalization of downtown Allentown, instead of being brought back to the municipality where the worker resides.
From the beginning, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has told 69 News the municipalities affected by the NIZ would see their money returned.
Recently, he offered a legal settlement that would immediately return current employees' earned income tax money. The city would keep future employees' EIT.
“The earned income tax will no longer come back to the department,” said board member John A. Vignone.
“We’ve been trying to get a number from Senators Browne’s office, and it’s been very vague information,” reported Vignone. “We did receive a letter from the mayor stating that we’ll have the numbers by June 1, which for a June 30 required budget is pretty short term.”
Hanover and Bethlehem Township have been involved in a lawsuit suing the state and the city of Allentown over the NIZ.
The townships want to keep their tax money within their municipality, instead of keeping the money within the downtown Allentown area.
Other townships have been joining the lawsuit.
“I’m concerned about what [the state is] going to misuse these dollars for,” said board member Roberta Marcus because the monies from the municipalities will be “blended.”
“It’s almost May and we still don’t know what the amount of dollars we’re losing is,” said Marcus, “My concern is that numbers aren’t readily available nor can I speak very highly of the reliability at this point.”
The board was concerned that they still have not been informed with how much earned income tax Parkland School District will be losing, hoping to see some given back to the district.
“Whatever we lose could have a budget impact to us. We will not get 100% of the money back, nor will any municipality,” said Vignone.
“Only if there’s excess, will we get a refund of money,” informed Miller. “They expect that the tax revenues will exceed the amount of the debt service.”
“Well I expected the state to benefit children of Pennsylvania with funding,” Marcus stated referring to the state budget educational cuts, “And I am disappointed.”
“There’s a potential [for] other complications down the road,” said Vignone with a possible anticipation that Parkland businesses may move to the NIZ for lower rent rates.
“We’ll continue to keep the board abreast on any information we would obtain on this important topic,” said Sniscak. “Two weeks ago Roberta and I visited Sen. Browne’s offices in Harrisburg and we were initially told that by May 15 we should have some helpers.”
The superintendent also stated the mayor had sent a letter saying the numbers about the earned income taxes would be given on June 1.
“I spoke directly to Berkheimer on that point and they’re going to crunch the numbers and we will have them on June 1,” clarified Miller.
The board is very concerned with how much tax money they are going to be losing due to the NIZ, and will continue to look into finding out more information.
The next Parkland School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m.