stopped just short of joining the lawsuit challenging Allentown’s ability to use earned income taxes from township residents to help build the city’s new minor-league hockey arena.
At last Thursday’s supervisors meeting, the board agreed to become an “intervenor” in the suit.
“This gives us a seat at the table,” said supervisor Sam Ashmar.
Township Solicitor Andrew Schantz explained that an intervenor is a party that has an interest in the action, but, in this case, neither joins nor withdraws from the case.
“I’m not saying we should join the lawsuit,” Ashmar said, “but we have to look after our residents. … I’m very worried.”
About 93 percent of Upper Macungie residents work outside the township. Those who work in could have their earned income taxes used to pay for the hockey arena instead of being forwarded to Upper Macungie and Parkland School District.
Anyone working within the 130-acre area in center city Allentown or along the waterfront, are the employees being targeted. Now, area municipalities are challenging in court Allentown’s right to do that.
The vote was 2 to 1, with Supervisor Kathy Rader voting against the motion.
“I think we should just play wait and see until we get some real numbers,” she said.
Ron Kistler, Upper Macungie’s member on the Lehigh Tax Collection Committee, said there are no hard numbers available yet. But he did say it’s possible that $25,000 to $30,000 could be taken from the township residents’ school tax payments and diverted to the Allentown project.
“We have a vested interest in following this,” Ashmar said. “Someone has to show me [how much money] the township will lose.”
Chairman Ed Early said the arena project has put the township at a total disadvantage, and it can’t be ignored.
“If we need to join [the lawsuit], we will,” he said.
The arena will be the home of the Philadelphia Flyers' farm team, the Phantoms, by September 2013. To date, about 10 other municipalities voted to join the suit against Allentown, including:
- Whitehall-Coplay School District
- Whitehall Township