News York City lost its bid for a City Revitalization Improvement Zone -- a potentially transformative economic tool to attract businesses and jobs -- was disappointing to say the least.
However, it was absolutely maddening to later learn the state based its decision not on the merits of York's application, but on a technicality.
York was one of five cities competing for state approval to create one of two available zones designed to spur urban development by diverting tax dollars back to project costs.
The state Legislature approved the new program in July, although it wasn't until Oct. 31 that guidelines for the application process were issued.
Those guidelines set a Nov. 30 deadline, giving eligible cities just one month to submit a competitive application complete with a proposed CRIZ map of up to 130 non-contiguous acres and potential development projects.
Cities also needed to create an authority to oversee the zone before the deadline.
As state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City, remarked, local officials had very little time to do a lot of work.
In a way, it's hardly surprising not every T was crossed or I dotted.
State officials say York City's application was disqualified because it designated an existing authority to implement the CRIZ program but failed to amend the articles of incorporation to include those powers.
Erie's application was discarded for the same reason.
In York's case, issue of the CRIZ authority is directly related to the extremely short time frame imposed by the state.
The York City Council voted to create an authority and appointed members less than a week before applications were due.
The authority's articles of incorporation were filed that same week, said Shilvosky Buffaloe, the city's acting director of economic and community development.
"Due to (Thanksgiving), however, the new authority's documentation from the Department of State was not returned in a timely manner" to obtain a required federal tax-identification number from the Internal Revenue Service, he said.
As an alternative, the city designated its General Authority -- which owns the city's parking garages and meters -- as its official applicant.
That didn't cut it with the selection committee, which dismissed the application based on the opinion of a state Department of Community and Economic Development attorney.
"Guidelines and legislation are developed to be followed," said Steve Kratz, a spokesman for the DCED. "In this case, it's unfortunate that they had to be disqualified."
Very unfortunate, indeed -- especially for the people who live, work and play in York.
Included in the city's CRIZ application were projects such as a $40 million transformation of the old York Prison site into a data center, an $18 million hotel on an old industrial site near the York fairgrounds, and an $8 million transformation of the former York City Post Office on South George Street into a hotel and high-end restaurant.
Within a decade, the city estimated, the CRIZ would create 10,130 construction jobs and nearly 11,000 other jobs, according to the application.
House Majority Whip Stan Saylor -- a Windsor Township Republican who worked hard, along with the rest of York County's delegation, to win the CRIZ -- disagrees with the reasoning behind York's disqualification.
In fact, York's application was "definitely one of the top two," he said, citing "insider information."
Saylor and other local officials say they'll aggressively pursue one of the next two CRIZ designations, which are now scheduled for 2016.
We wish them luck -- and urge them to get started now.