Redevelopment Authority votes to distribute money from disputed TIF

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
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WILKES-BARRE — After a judge last week ruled to block an injunction request from the City of Wilkes-Barre, the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority voted Tuesday to redistribute leftover money from a municipal project fund.

According to Garry Taroli, solicitor for the redevelopment authority, that means that much of nearly $3.2 million would be returned to the county, the Wilkes-Barre Area School District and Wilkes-Barre Township.

The money stems from a tax incremental fund, or TIF, begun by the three bodies in 1998 for the purpose of making improvements to Coal and Mundy streets along with Highland Park Boulevard.

Wilkes-Barre sued earlier this year, claiming it had become a party to the TIF and arguing the project would not be complete until Coal Street was extended to meet with Pennsylvania Avenue.

The city demanded an injunction to prevent the millions of dollars from being redistributed. But Luzerne County Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. determined after a lengthy hearing the city did not show it needed the injunction.

With that ruling, the way was cleared for the redevelopment authority to distribute the funding within 30 days.

Taroli said the authority is withholding 3 percent of the money, or roughly $96,000, to pay for any potential legal fees that may arise.

The money will be distributed proportionally to the amounts the school district, county, and township put in, Taroli said, with roughly $1.5 million going to the district, $1.1 million to the county and the remaining $600,000 to the township.

“The parties are all in agreement the money should be disbursed in proportion to their disbursement,” Taroli said.

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By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan