Harrisburg, July 13, 2016 – State Sen. Lisa Boscola today announced that the state’s new tax code legislation includes numerous changes aimed at making the CRIZ (City Revitalization and Improvement Zone) program more viable and useful for communities trying to redevelop urban areas.

“We made these program changes with the hope of unlocking the full potential of the CRIZ program as an economic development tool for municipalities to develop targeted reinvestment zones,” Boscola said.

The program allows for the use of future state and local tax revenues to pay for infrastructure and development costs of local projects. Initiated in 2013, Bethlehem, Lancaster and Tamaqua were the first municipalities selected for the program.

Boscola said the program has a great deal of promise, but has been hindered by implementation issues and uncertainty around the availability of revenues for debt payments. She said banks have also been wary of financing projects, especially large projects, based on a restrictive interpretation of the law.

The CRIZ program is being altered to ensure that new increment generated in a zone would be used for its intended purpose — financing economic development projects.

“These changes were designed to provide the certainty needed for the private sector to rely on the availability of CRIZ increment to help finance projects,” Boscola said.

Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez added, “The changes the legislature enacted today establish clarity in the CRIZ program and are critical to the future successes of the city’s development projects in the zone. I want to thank Senators Boscola and Browne for their leadership on this issue. Without their efforts, the program would have continued to stall. Now Bethlehem’s CRIZ is open for business.”

The legislature approved the state’s new tax code (House Bill 1198) today. Gov. Tom Wolf is expected to sign the bill soon.

 

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CONTACT: Stephen DeFrank

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