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South Whitehall Abandons Arena Suit

State budget deal means litigation over earned income taxes for Allentown's hockey arena is "moot," according to South Whitehall solicitor.

South Whitehall Abandons Arena Suit

The South Whitehall Board of Commissioners veered off its written agenda Wednesday night and voted to end its involving the Allentown hockey arena.

The commissioners had voted in April to join a legal fight over a state law that diverted suburban earned income taxes to the construction of the $158 million hockey arena in downtown Allentown and other developments.

South Whitehall officials were upset about the loss of the tax revenue and viewed the law as unconstitutional. For the first quarter of this year, South Whitehall lost to the Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

However, as part of a recent state budget deal, Allentown’s NIZ will have to give back the earned income tax dollars collected from suburban commuters who work in the city.

That action, South Whitehall’s solicitor Joseph Zator told the commissioners Wednesday, “effectively has made the litigation moot.” Consequently, Zator advised the commissioners to discontinue their legal action.

Zator also said he checked to determine the status of the return of the earned income tax funds to the township. Zator said he learned Wednesday that Berkheimer Associates, Allentown’s tax collector, is processing the money this week.

With no additional discussion, Commissioners Dale Daubert, Thomas Johns, Glenn Block and David Bond voted to withdraw the township’s involvement in the litigation. Commissioners President Tori Morgan was absent from the meeting.

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