The chance that York City will get a shot at a City Revitalization Improvement Zone designation this year just got much slimmer.
During the debate over the state's 2014-15 spending plan, lawmakers nixed a proposal that would have opened the next round of CRIZ applications to more cities earlier than originally planned.
The version of the fiscal code approved by the state Senate included three new CRIZ designations in 2014 and two more in 2015, said state Rep. Kevin Schreiber, D-York City.
But, Schreiber said, Republican members of the House Rules Committee voted to remove "anything having to do with CRIZ" from its version of the fiscal code, a companion bill to the state's annual budget.
"I was very hopeful, as were many others, that that would be included in the final fiscal code," Schreiber said.
Now, the opportunity to legislate an expedited CRIZ application process will have to wait until the fall, when the legislative session resumes. And it will require a stand-alone bill, which means it will be subject to amendments and more extensive scrutiny, Schreiber said.
Expanding CRIZ opportunities through the fiscal code "would have been easier," he said.
"Disappointing": "It was a window. We attempted to include it in the fiscal code. It was taken out, and that's unfortunate," Schreiber said. "It's disappointing. It's a setback."
York was one of five cities that competed last year for the first two CRIZ designations. The program aims to attract business and jobs to cities by offering developers state and city tax revenue to pay off project debt. Lancaster and Bethlehem earned the state's blessing to create the first zones.
The legislation that created CRIZ establishes a possible second round of designations for 2016, followed by one designation each year after that.
But several legislators, including some from York County, have been working to speed up the process.
For example, a bipartisan coalition backed House Majority Whip Rep. Stan Saylor's bill that would have given two more Pennsylvania cities a chance at the designations this year.
A proposal in the state Senate would have authorized the creation of 15 additional zones before 2016.
"I think the number of CRIZ bills out there is evidence that this is a very powerful economic development tool and many communities want it," Schreiber said.
Meanwhile, York's CRIZ authority has been holding public meetings each month to prepare for the next round of applications.
"We'll continue to push forward and try any possible legislative avenue we can to get a CRIZ designation in York," Schreiber said.
— Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.