School Board Approves Easton KOZ

Easton Area School Board votes 9-0 for a tax break plan for city properties.

With a unanimous vote, the Easton Area School Board has approved a new Keystone Opportunity Zone for the city of Easton.

The KOZ is a state-run program that provides tax breaks for people who develop properties that have been vacant or blighted.

Speaking to the board Tuesday night, Mayor Sal Panto called the properties -- including the Simon Silk Mill on 13th Street and the intermodal unit on South Third Street -- "game changing" for the city.

In Easton's case, thoset ax breaks would go into effect in 2014 and last nine years.

During that time, property owners and residents in the properties in question would pay no property taxes, income taxes or business privilege taxes. 

In addition to the Silk Mill and intermodal unit, the other properties are: 

  • The Stewart Silk Mill on W. Lincoln Street in the South Side.
  • The Governor Wolf building on Second Street.
  • Two buildings at 118 and 120 Northampton St.

“We have never received a penny in revenue from any of these buildings," board member Frank Pintabone said. "Unless we do this, we will probably never receive a penny in revenue from any of these buildings.” 

Although the vote was 9-0, board member Robert Moskaits was skeptical at first, saying the board got a better deal when it approved a similar tax-break plan -- the TIF in Palmer Township.

"I don’t see too much sense in having marginal business projects," he said. "If they’re marginal they require tax free funding, are they really going to survive?”

Panto said he already has developers lined up, and noted that the district is now receiving income from the Grand Eastonian, a previous KOZ property.

Earlier this year, Easton abandoned its plans to try to set up a KOZ for 2013. But City Council voted last month to approve the KOZ for 2014. The city still needs Northampton County Council to back the KOZ before submitting its plans to the state.

Rasterone October 28, 2012 at 08:25 PM
A successful intermodal unit probably REDUCES overall tax revenue to City, School and State --after all the generally well off folks who to commute to places like NY do not pay a dime of taxes to City, School or PA on their high big city wages! For that matter if they commute to Philadelphia they don't pay a dime of City or School taxes around here either on Phila wages . So why would elected officials vote to increase the potential for tax revenue loss --and defacto a tax increase for everyone else who lives here.


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