Jan 23, 2012

Pat Browne's NIZ Shell Game

Back in the fall, when it was discovered that J.B. Reilly was loaned $20 million under the same terms as the arena, and that taxes would be used for his debt service, and before the rules to apply were formulated and publicly announced, Pat Browne said "I'm not sure why anyone is confused. The law is very clear." Yes, this is the same Pat Browne whose campaign brochure touts reducing the size of government, and sponsored the Taxpayer Transparency Act. Scott Kraus and Matt Assad, of The Morning Call, have reported* that various professional fiscal managers in the surrounding townships, have been caught off-guard by the NIZ wrinkles. Bethlehem's business administrator said, "What? That's crazy....we're not getting money we already included in this year's budget." Upper Milford's manager said "Our bread and butter is that Earned Income Tax. Any amount we lose is significant to us." Pat Browne's reply to the beleaguered administrators: "I'm not sure why anyone is confused. The law is very clear." This blogger has maintained, contrary to the patter coming out of the mouths of Pawlowski and Browne, that every dollar going toward these NIZ projects will have to be made up by the taxpayers, somewhere, somehow. Pat Browne says, "There is naturally going to be some adjustment, But we're talking about rebuilding the urban core of Lehigh County. The benefits to everyone, including the suburban municipalities, are going to be well worth the adjustments we have to go through to get there."

Senator Browne, those benefits remain to be seen. For someone who sponsored The Taxpayer Transparency Act, you sure can move those shells around fast.

*Taxing question:Arena tab extends beyond Allentown/by Scott Kraus and Matt Assad/The Morning Call/January 22, 2012

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

In reading the Morning Call article, I believe Pawlowski helped Browne come up with the plan to Fund the N.I.Z. without notifying the other school district and municipalities of their plan. if it became known, would of had opposition and the funding for Pawloski Palace would not happened. When will someone release estimates as to the revenue from State and Local taxes to pay for the cost that could reach half bllion dollars if all phases planned are completed.300M for the ARENA project,180 M Lehigh river project, 20 m Reily and 10M Butz. Could bemore if a convention Center will be built.

Anonymous said...

If this is true and Browne is responsible for outside Allentown communities being on the hook for his arena, he will do more damage to area Rs than anyone in recent
history. Does he really want this to be his legacy?

Anonymous said...

Browne says he's surprised others didn't know about his plan? Oh really. Did he visit area communities and meet with governing bodies to inform all of his tax plan?

Anonymous said...

Browne may leave office in disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Browne will join his wife
as a lobbyist.

Anonymous said...

"When will someone release estimates as to the revenue from State and Local taxes to pay for the cost that could reach half bllion dollars"

Good question.

Anonymous said...

Browne's new and fancy Allentown office is located in Reilly's 7th and Hamilton building. Guess they never spoke or saw each other in passing.

Anonymous said...

Hope the Call reporters spend today calling government leaders around the valley to get their thoughts on this issue?

michael molovinsky said...

i'd like to establish some comment guidelines for this post. i've known, and like, pat browne for a number of years. i'm an opponent of the NIZ in how it's being implemented. if the arena was placed somewhere else, and the plan wasn't so transformational, and the rules were publicly announced before the fact, i may have been a supporter. as an opponent, it would be disingenuous to ignore pat browne's involvement. there are people of good will who support this plan. i will not host anonymous speculation about browne's future or intentions.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

No one can be proud of this process, including Pat Browne.


Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am informed that Browne intends to leave office at the end of his current term. It looks like he has paved the way for his new role as a lobbyist, as one of your readers has already suggested. At least then, he'll be getting paid directly by the people he's really working for, because he certainly is not working for the public.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion, but can we see some numbers.

The EIT from the activities in the Hamilton Street NIZ may not be that significant? There is also the issue of timing. Some may be collected in 2012 and paid a year later in 2013?

michael molovinsky said...

anon 10:46, with only half a mill tax, upper milford will have to raise their tax rate, regardless of how little they lose because of the EIT in the NIZ. all taxing districts will want to remain revenue neutral.

i have no issue hosting the 10:24 comment signed by bernie o'hare. had that been anonymously submitted, it would not appear.

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

I've been suspicious of this project from the beginning. Medium-sized facilities like this, in medium-sized cities like Allentown fail to justify their expense.

Unless the major stakeholder is PRIVATE investment, actual realized gains fall short of what is promoted.

The real question is, at what point can citizens do anything to prevent such projects, and isn't it really too late in the case of Allentown?

Anonymous said...

Slowly but surely, it seems A-town is becoming the city "people will love to hate." I am hoping the "powers that be" TRULY have a plan A. B, and C, just in case this doesn't work out as planned. It's true that something needed to be done to improve Allentown, but it remains to be seen if this is the answer to its woes...

Alfonso Todd
www.spontaneous1.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Mike, since you write you knowSen. Browne,could you contact him and find out if Pawlowki had a major role in writing the bill with the Senator.

michael molovinsky said...

retired (and alfonso), unfortunately, i believe that it is too late. furthermore, if the EIT and sales tax fail to meet the debt service, the NIZ allows use of property taxes. there really is no if, only when this will kick in. all taxing bodies will want to remain revenue neutral, and have to raise taxes to cover the new shortfall. pat browne will have to say "I'm not sure why anybody is confused, the law is very clear."

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right Alfonso. Allentown politicians have proven time and again they cannot be trusted, and this just furthers that belief.

Anonymous said...

MM -

Let's not be so pessimistic here. Perhaps the arena can do for Allentown what similar facilities have done for Reading and Philadelphia.

Obviously, there's a lot of sarcasm in that statement, but really, what the heck are they thinking?

Anonymous said...

Retired ASD teacher here.

Alfonso, as for any Plan B, it's not likely the Allentown Stadium Authority will make a useful sale of the project.

The problem with arenas is they are heavily dedicated to a single purpose, unlike office buildings, hotels, warehouses, and large exhibition halls.

The Pontiac Silverdome was recently sold. The indoor, 80,000 seat stadium (and 127 acres) was unable to find tenants after the Detroit Lions went elsewhere. The financially strapped city wanted out.

Well, the Silverdome WAS just sold.

Sale Price $583,000!