HARRISBURG – State Sen. Jarrett Coleman (R-16) today introduced Senate Bill 534 to open up the finances of Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone (NIZ) to public scrutiny.
The measure would repeal the changes made to the Fiscal Code in 2021 that shielded many details of the Allentown NIZ from taxpayers.
“In June of 2021, the fiscal code was changed to stop the public from learning how tax dollars are moving through the NIZ. Accessing this information is vital to understanding whether the NIZ functions as advertised and sold to the public,” Coleman said. “Has it been an engine of economic development or real-estate development? Those two things don’t always line up. If we’re going to answer that question, then we need access to specific financial details.”
“The original fiscal notes, or calculations of cost to the Commonwealth, indicated that there wouldn’t be any negative impact to tax revenues. That conclusion assumed that activity in the NIZ was new activity. There are questions about whether that is what happened,” Coleman said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue have been attributed to the NIZ. Questions surrounding the implementation of the NIZ law and its impact on the overall financial health of the Commonwealth can only be answered if we have access to this information. Taxpayers have a right to know if their money is being spent wisely.”
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