Sep 1, 2016

Taxing Allentown's Arena

A headline in Monday's Morning Call lamented that taxpayers spent $84K challenging the Arena Authority for more school taxes.  Sy Traub, the Authority chairman, commented,  They wasted our money and theirs. Very frustrating.  Personally, I was frustrated that the school district decided against appealing the decision. I was further frustrated that the arena legislation was amended to codify the arena's position.

The legislation was not written on a mountain, and chiseled into a stone tablet to guide mankind forever more. It is imperative that such laws be tested, and submitted to reasonable scrutiny.


Scott Armstrong said...


Although the entire NIZ taxing legislation was worthy of suspicion and criticism it was unwise for the district to challenge the NIZ. The school board should have left the lawsuit to others, such as the board of county commissioners. Allentown's business leaders, many of whom are involved directly or indirectly with the NIZ are also major contributors to the district. The funds they have donated pale any amount the district would have gained in a lawsuit. Was it worth the bad blood? Secondly, lobbing Pat Browne directly for relief would very likely have led to a remedy that would have been palatable to everyone. Apparently Senator Browne has the power to tailor legislation as he wishes in this regard.
Going forward with the suit and losing, coupled with the ridiculous buyout/sabbatical of the superintendent(who would have begun his last year now) allows the public to think the district/board are less than competent.

Geoff said...

Agree with all of Mr. Armstrong--despite the "legal answer," the juice probably wasn't worth the squeeze in this case.

That said, it is interesting how Teflon-like Mr. Browne can be as a State Senator. He receives almost no criticism despite brushes with the law over DUI. And now his acute legal judgement lead to laws that interfere with the normal practice of school districts to assess and raise revenue on plainly private, commercial real estate. The state press accepts at face value that such machinations, along with the bizarre laws to "support" the provision of concerts to medium-sized venues, are required for this project to "succeed."

Perhaps a compromise would be to somehow require the Morning Call to only cite the taxable value of the NIZ (a matter of public record), rather than the somewhat inflated and even absurd figures cited in the owner's press statements.