This month's local TV report by state Sen. David G. Argall features a public hearing regarding the pros and cons of Keystone Opportunity Zones throughout Schuylkill County.
The hearing featured a wide-range of speakers with firsthand experience on the KOZs, tax-free zones created in the 1990s in order to spur job growth and fight blight in Pennsylvania. Senator Argall (R-29), along with state Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124), state Rep. Mike Tobash (R-125) and Ed Kleha on behalf of state Rep. Neal Goodman (D-123), heard testimonies from members of various economic development organizations.
"With 3,000 new jobs in Schuylkill County because of Keystone Opportunity Zones, this program has been a valuable part of our region's economic development strategy," said Argall. "This program offers a view of pros and cons of legislation from over a decade ago designed to create jobs. During the show, we examine what worked, what we would have changed and where to proceed in the future. Not only are jobs being created, but several of our local school districts and our county and local governments are now reaping the rewards with an influx of millions of dollars in new tax revenue on formerly abandoned sites to alleviate the stress on local homeowners."
Beginning this year, Schuylkill County school districts will receive an additional $3 million each and every year, now that the KOZs are beginning to expire across the state. As one example, the Pine Grove Area School District will receive an additional $614,000 on formerly tax-free properties in 2011. Townships, Boroughs, and the City of Pottsville will receive $400,000, and the county government will receive an additional $900,000 from the former tax-free zones. Additional funding will be made available in future years as more recent KOZs expire.
The program will air on:
· Blue Ridge Communications (Channel 13) every Monday at 10 a.m. and every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.
· Comcast On-Demand on Channel 1 /Get Local /Government /State Senate.
· Reading (Channel 21) and Hamburg (Channel 19) every Monday at 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and every Tuesday at 9 a.m.
· Service Electric (Channel 19) the second and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m.
· The program is also available on Shen-Heights TV and WLYN TV 35 in Hazleton. Please check local listings for air times.
Senator Argall's report is also available online at www.vimeo.com/SenatorArgall