Moon Area ends transportation partnership with MTA

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Moon Area has dissolved its partnership with Moon Transportation Authority after allowing the entity to broker the exemption and redirection of tax revenue to fund transportation improvements such as the Thorn Run Road interchange and Cherrington Parkway project for nearly 30 years.

The decision to withdraw from the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act and ultimately the MTA was made July 15 by school directors.

Designed to promote infrastructure and economic development in Moon, MTA has allowed for the construction of three interchanges and several connecting roads along Business Loop 376. According to the Moon Economic Development website, these projects established enhanced transportation and the opening of hundreds of acres of land for development.

Solicitors from both the MTA and the municipality, which served as the third partner in the authority, spoke to directors asking the board to table its decision and to meet in the future to come up with a mutually agreeable solution to the issue.

Legal action may be the ultimate result of the school's termination of partnership.

"We don't know when and where litigation may arise," MTA Solicitor Dick Mills said after the vote. He indicated the move by Moon Area could put the MTA and Moon in a "financial bind" because the authority does "not have enough funds available to wind up business."

Members of the school board disagree with MTA's stand on finances stating the authority has $11 million in available funds.

MTA Solicitor Austin Henry said the funds are already allocated. The capital is needed for paying back loans, an eminent domain legal issue and for the possibility of matching funds toward a federal TIGER Grant.

Additionally, Mr. Henry said the Thorn Run Road interchange is only 30 percent complete.

The school district will remain obligated to tax redirection efforts currently in place or approved. Traditionally, agreements reached by MTA allow for a 10-year tax abatement on structures, while taxes are still paid on land.

Director Jerry Testa said the district can no longer afford these types of abatements due to a downturn in state and federal financial support.

Abstaining from the vote was Director Jeffrey Bussard, the school's committee member on the MTA board.

He said he expected to hear a plea to the school board to table the decision, not threats of litigation.

Alfred C. Maielo, Moon Area solicitor, said repeated requests to meet with the authority to avoid litigation went unanswered.

Ultimately, Mr. Bussard said he would have liked "to have both boards sit down together and hash this out."

A motion by Mr. Testa to postpone the vote for two weeks to allow both sides to meet did not receive a second. Ron Steele was absent.

education - neigh_west

Sonja Reis, freelance: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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