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Easton Will Abandon KOZ Plans for 2012

Mayor says Easton can wait until next year for tax incentive program.

Easton will abandon  this year, Mayor Sal Panto said Wednesday.

Instead, the city will wait until the next round of grants in 2013 to submit its application for the Keystone Opportunity Zone program, which offers tax breaks to people who develop parcels of land.

"Bethlehem Township isn't ready," Panto said, adding that the KOZ funding is competitive, and the proposal has a better chance of state approval if everyone is on board.

He said the delay wouldn't be much of an issue anyway, since essentially none of the projects proposed for the zone will break ground before next year at the earliest.

Panto had indicated it wouldn't be a hardship for the city to table the matter when discussing it with the Easton Area School Board Tuesday. 

The city had planned to apply to have six sites designated as KOZs:

  • The on Northampton Street.
  • The Governor Wolf building, .
  • A cluster of blighted buildings on the 100 block of Northampton Street.
  • The former on the South Side.
  • The property on 13th Street.
  • The city's on Third Street.

The city's plans to establish a LERTA zone are independent of its KOZ efforts, and will continue forward, officials said.

One detail to be decided is the definition of 'substantial improvements', which if made to qualifying properties that lie in the zone, would provide temporary relief from some property taxes in exchange for the investment and revitalization.

Panto suggested it be applied to those who's qualifying efforts result in a 40 percent or more increase in the property's official assessment.

Also Wednesday, city officials said they will take public comment on the proposed earned income tax for commuters at the April 25 council meeting.

Additionally on the agenda for April 25:

  • A hearing for the ordinance that will enact
  • A presentation previewing the upcoming season.
  • The plan for will be unveiled and discussed
  • Council approval is anticipated of the planned book store on Cattell Street
  • And, a presentation from representatives of VAST regarding

Beginning at 6 p.m., this meeting will be held at . The venue is part of the council's efforts to hold meetings in each of the city's neighborhoods.

Council will also hold public hearings on Tuesday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 22, to gather public input regarding possible changes to parking in the city's Downtown area.

City officials said they expect to receive the final report of by the end of next week.

Christina Georgiou April 12, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Also scheduled for the meeting on April 25 is discussion on how the city will pay for mounting pension and benefit costs, along with a hearing on expanding the city's earned income tax (EIT) to include commuters and city workers.

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