I just have an update to the last item in this post based on this Courier Times story today...
Back in 2003, (Mike) Fitzpatrick voted against tax-free status for businesses at the USX Industrial Park. U.S. Steel sought for the site to become a Keystone Opportunity Zone to lure new companies to its park's 1,259 available acres with the promise of 15 years of tax-free status.I think former Bucks County Commissioner Sandra Miller put her foot in it a bit, shall we say, by criticizing Mikey’s KOZ vote in 2003 when she voted the same way herself. But Sandra Miller isn’t running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. Mike Fitzpatrick is, however.
The idea behind an opportunity zone is that being a tax oasis will bring in new businesses and jobs. The Pennsbury School Board and Falls supervisors needed to agree with commissioners.
The school board was the first to sign on, but township supervisors said they were unwilling to buck public opinion or give up an estimated $88 million in tax revenues.
A year later, when the plan resurfaced, supervisors agreed but commissioners decided to table a vote for what Commissioner Charley Martin described as "inadequate" compensation from U.S. Steel.
Finally, in May 2004, the measure passed with Fitzpatrick abstaining. He said he was advised not to vote because his employer, the law firm Saul Ewing, was working with a client on a land deal with U.S. Steel.
"Fitzpatrick had his chance to stand up for Bucks County workers and help create jobs," Miller said. "Instead, he turned his back on them."
She also took issue with his "conflict of interest" claim.
"Fitzpatrick was the lead negotiator on the deal for a year and had already taken votes on the tax incentive proposal just days earlier," Miller said. "Fitzpatrick can make excuses, but the bottom line is that he voted against jobs for Bucks County."
Fitzpatrick's response: "I voted in 2003 exactly as Commissioner Miller voted."
On Friday, Miller said she couldn't recall her 2003 vote. But a story from the meeting found in this newspaper's archives said the vote was unanimous.
Miller also agreed with Fitzpatrick and Martin later to table the vote. That led to U.S. Steel increasing its offer from $95,000 to $140,000 annually over the zone's lifetime.
During the months of meetings, several union representatives attended in support of the KOZ.
Critics, however, called the zone unnecessary corporate welfare that would only lure businesses from nearby areas, leaving the job situation flat but costing communities tax dollars that would need to be made up elsewhere.
One of those against KOZ was then Lower Makefield supervisor Steve Santarsiero, a Democrat and now a state representative.
Supervisors believed KOZ might shift a tax burden onto residents in many area townships, including theirs, and also lead to businesses leaving Lower Makefield and other area municipalities.
Fitzpatrick, however, said in 1996 he led the economic task force to create the county's first enterprise zone and in May 2004 would have voted for KOZ.
Murphy wasn't buying it. "If Fitzpatrick had his way, this would still be an economic and environmental brownfield instead of a growing hub for manufacturing and green energy companies," he said. "We can't afford to put Fitzpatrick back in charge and return to the failed policies of the past."
Also, Fitzpatrick's claim that he would have voted for KOZ when he plainly did not in 2004 is more of Mikey’s typical double talk.
All of which is even more reason to support our incumbent Democratic congressman by clicking here.