Two competing bills are being introduced in the state Senate that would expand Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone – unique and highly successful but also highly criticized – to other Pennsylvania cities.
One bill would include Reading; the other would not.
The prize for any city is the zones’ new ability to retain state personal income and sales tax revenue generated in the zone, using it to repay bond issues for demolition, infrastructure and even new buildings.
But both bills, in answer to charges that Allentown’s gains are the state’s losses, would limit how much state tax can be kept locally.
Sen. Lloyd Smucker, a Lancaster Republican, introduced the first bill in early May to authorize what he calls City Revitalization and Improvement Zones. Its pilot program applies only to cities with 40,000 to 70,000 people.