|Posted:||February 18, 2014 12:10 PM|
|From:||Representative Mark Longietti|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Amend the City Revitalization Improvement Zones (CRIZ) Program|
I will soon be introducing legislation to amend the City Revitalization Improvement Zones (CRIZ) program launched in 2013. That initiative is designed to spur new growth, create jobs, and revive downtowns by using state and local taxes collected within the CRIZ to repay debt service for development projects therein.
As the program was designed last year, only two cities are authorized to participate through 2016, with two more added each year thereafter. The only cities eligible are third-class cities with populations greater than 30,000, and those under the protections of Act 47, the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, are excluded.
The reality is that our smaller cities are struggling just as much, if not more, to develop their economies than those with populations above 30,000. I believe the program should be expanded to allow all of our third-class cities, and the City of Scranton, to be eligible for inclusion. I also believe those cities that are in the most need of help, those in Act 47 protection, should be not only eligible but given priority consideration in awarding CRIZ designations.
To that end, I am introducing a bill modeled on Senate Bill 1227, introduced by Senators Schwank and Blake, to expand and restructure the CRIZ program. This legislation would authorize a CRIZ in a total of 15 third-class and second-class-A cities before 2016, divided among four categories of population: four in cities of 60,000 or more; four in cities between 20,000 and 60,000; four in cities up to 20,000; and in three additional cities regardless of population. After 2016, all population restrictions for entry into the program would be lifted. Those cities in Act 47 protection would be given priority approval.
The bill would also modify the existing pilot zone program, which allows one township or borough to introduce a CRIZ, by expanding the number of authorized pilot zones to five and by lowering the population requirement for those municipalities to 2,000 from 7,000, without restriction by the form of county government.
The expansion of the program necessitates language in my bill providing that no municipality would be allowed more than one CRIZ or pilot zone.
I believe this measure reflects the reality of the economic state of our cities and gives them a fighting chance of recovery.
Introduced as HB2123