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Easton School Board Will Revisit KOZ

School board set to vote on tax breaks to help develop six sites in the city.

Easton is once again looking to set up Keystone Opportunity Zones to boost economic development in the city.

The KOZs are a state program that provides tax exemptions to people who develop abandoned or blighted properties.

The city's list, presented Tuesday night to the board by Easton Mayor Sal Panto and Economic Development Director Gretchen Longenbach, includes a broad range of properties, from abandoned buildings to still-in-construction projects.

Easton needs the school board's approval -- as well as that of Northampton County Council -- before it can present its plan to the state. The school board is expected to vote later this month, the Express-Times reports.

The newspaper said the KOZ would go into effect in 2014 and last nine years. During that time, property owners and residents in the properties in question would pay no property taxes, income taxes or business privilege taxes. 

In exchange, Easton would eventually see tax revenue from properties that have been sitting dormant -- and in some cases blighted -- for years.

The properties are: 

  • The Stewart Silk Mill on W. Lincoln Street in the South Side.
  • The Simon Silk Mill along N. 13th Street, recently home to the city's Movies at the Mill.
  • The Governor Wolf building on Second Street.
  • The intermodal unit along S. Third Street.
  • Two buildings at 118 and 120 Northampton St.

Earlier this year, Easton abandoned its plans to try to set up a KOZ for 2013. But City Council voted last month to approve the KOZ for 2014. 

The city's pitch to the school board comes a little more than a week after the owner of the Wilson Dixie Cup plant proposed a KOZ for his property. 

Eastoner October 11, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Why would the Governor Wolf building be included? Isn't it owned by the county and therefore tax exempt anyway? Is there talk of the county unloading it? Are we about to see another proposal for development of the parking lot?
Tom Coombe October 11, 2012 at 05:38 PM
All but one of these properties -- the Black Diamond/Stewart Silk Mill -- are owned by some public entity. I believe the idea is that making them into KOZs will attract private developers. And the county executive has wanted to move out of the Wolf building for quite some time.

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