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Letter PA Rep. Timothy Mahoney

Letter sent via form Monday October 8, 2007

Dear Representative Mahoney

I'm writing to you regarding our open phone conversation on the issue of keystone opportunity zones when you were a guest on Let's Talk with Bob Foltz .

Since the KOZs were implemented back in 1999, I have been conducting research on the legislation and made my opinion on the program's flaws and unconstitutionality known at Uniontown Area School Board meetings, Uniontown City Council meetings, and Fayette County Commissioners' meetings, and faxes to other boards.

I compiled "newsletters" with resources on the issue which I submitted as well.

In addition, I have continued researching and developed webpages which address KOZs unfairness. Some of my comments made at meetings are also online. My blog which I referenced to you previously is Net the Truth Online.

The inequity of KOZ should be ended and not permitted to linger even one day longer. The real potential for such was renewed when you made the statement on Let's Talk to me that you agreed KOZs were unfair, not uniform according to the PA Constitution, and unconstitutional.

Your response to my "accountability" question was: After you'd accomplished your two top priorities, you'd make KOZs your third top priority.

As I did at the time, I'm asking you to reconsider waiting and make KOZs your immediate third top priority.

Later simply isn't good enough, as I said then.

I would be open to submitting additional materials to you in an effort to get your public agreement to reconsider waiting to a date uncertain to tackle KOZs.

You may not be aware that before your election in a previous session of the House of Representatives, there had already been a proposal, for instance, to alter the count-down date to expiration of KOZs from the "designation date" to when infrastructure is in.

You could immediately propose a bill which would squelch that effort before it arises.

You recognize the inherent unfairness of the many taxes exempted for some local businesses and not others. You also take an oath to uphold the PA Constitution.

It follows you'd want to act soon to right this inequity of KOZ.

You could immediately submit a bill, again, for instance, that stops those properties where KOZ is set to expire soon (2009/2010/2012) from seeking reauthorization anew.

Where the expansion program known as KOEZ is additionally set to expire in years out as well and where there is as yet no infrastructure and the designated properties remain undeveloped, you could propose a "restraining order" bill.

Once and for all, the unconstitutionality of KOZs should be settled.

As you are aware many county commissioner candidates have come forward in opposition to the housing developments proposed for KOZ lands.

I'd ask them the same as I've asked you: What are you going to do about it?

One action you could take immediately is to propose a bill which makes it easier rather than a bureaucratic nightmare for county commissioners, school boards, and city council or municipality boards to rescind or revoke past resolutions which were enacted before a push to include housing developments (after 2002/04).

Additionally, you could submit a bill that cuts off the money flow in the way of legislative grants to KOZs and KOEZs.

I understand your effort to focus on your two top priorities which you outlined as open records and local property tax elimination.

Realize, however, those efforts particularly with completely eliminating property taxes could take years. As you know the PA Constitution would need amended to allow for alteration of the uniformity clause and abolish property taxes. That process could take more than a couple legislative sessions and it would be unconscionable to alter the uniformity clause. That clause alone highlights the unconstitutionality of KOZs.

Meanwhile, Fayette County continues to hold property tax sales and many homeowners and businesses have lost their properties at these sales.

That fact is the most disheartening in the face of the tax exemptions KOZ properties enjoy for some ten to twelve years. In fact, my research has revealed that many of the extensions of the designations go out to 2015 and onward.

Worse, what a slap in the face to taxpayers who must pay the costs of paying off local school bonds and county bonds for that same period when others do not have to suffer paying those taxes during that time. With extensions, they might not face any of the taxation to pay off a bond for school construction.

Another despicable aspect I hope you too will find abhorrent. How many properties were acquired previously at such tax sales and later KOZ status was sought and obtained? I believe there is at least one such case in Fayette County. I hope you will look into that.

Finally, do as much as you can to put the final expiration date on KOZs.

I welcome an opportunity to provide you with additional material showing three areas of unconstitutionality of KOZs.

Thank you for your time.

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