As we prepare to say goodbye to 2018 and welcome a new year, we thought we’d take a moment and revisit a few of our favorite stories from the last twelve months that we’ve followed on the McNees Public Sector Blog. Continue Reading A Look Back at 2018
Earlier this year, our colleague Claudia Shank blogged about the revival of the Environmental Rights Amendment (the “ERA”) after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Fund v. Commonwealth, 161 A.3d 911 (2017). The PEDF decision breathed new life into the 1972 amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution, but also left many unanswered questions about the ERA. One such unanswered question of particular interest for municipalities and developers was the meaning of the revived ERA in the land use context.
Last week, the Commonwealth Court took a first step in answering this question, when it handed down a decision in the case of Frederick v. Allegheny Twp. Zoning Hearing Board, 2018 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 593 (Commw. Ct. Oct. 26, 2018). Head on over to the McNees Land Use Blog for an analysis of this decision by our colleague Jon Andrews.
Act 33 was enacted and signed into law on June 18, 2018 to provide counties with greater flexibility in combating blight. The new law, which takes effect 60 days after signing, allows a county to designate a redevelopment authority as the land bank for its jurisdiction.
Since 2012, counties have had the ability to establish land banks under the Pennsylvania Land Bank Act. Land banks are independent public entities created to expedite the process of acquiring and rehabilitating blighted, dilapidated and abandoned real estate. They often work together with redevelopment authorities to help eliminate blight in local communities. But while land banks have been crucial in this fight, many Pennsylvania counties have had active redevelopment authorities performing similar functions for over half a century. Continue Reading Law Allows Counties to Designate Redevelopment Authorities as Land Banks
In a prior post we highlighted a recent podcast that McNees real estate attorney Kandice Hull recorded on eminent domain. Interested to know more about this topic? You can find her additional thoughts, including on the Supreme Court’s decision in Kelo v. City of New London, below.
Did you miss part 1 in this series? You can get caught up here. And, be sure to subscribe to our blog – as part 3 is in the works!
A recent Commonwealth Court decision affirmed that municipalities within Pennsylvania are not immune from claims of adverse possession. In City of Philadelphia v. Galdo, 181 A3d. 1289 (Pa. Commw. 2018), the Commonwealth Court held that the City of Philadelphia had lost title to a property that it had previously condemned to an adjacent property owner who adversely possessed the property. Continue Reading Municipalities Can Lose Property Through Adverse Possession
McNees attorney Claudia Shank recently authored a series of blog posts on the McNees Land Use Blog on the Supreme Court’s revival of the Environmental Rights Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Environmental Rights Amendment provides in pertinent part:
Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of the people.
The Court’s revival of the Environmental Rights Amendment has repercussions for municipalities, as the Commonwealth’s trustee obligations “are not vested exclusively in any single branch of Pennsylvania’s government”; rather, “all agencies and entities of the Commonwealth government, both statewide and local, have a fiduciary duty to act toward the corpus with prudence, loyalty, and impartiality.”
As we prepare to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome a new year, we thought we’d take a moment and revisit some of our favorite stories from the last twelve months that we’ve followed on the McNees Public Sector Blog.
- A kinder, gentler Internal Revenue Service? Perhaps in response to the Trump Administration’s “less is more” approach to regulation, 2017 saw several announcements from the IRS that were favorably received by the municipal bond industry. In January the IRS published new guidance on management contracts involving bond-financed facilities, which reintroduced old concepts following a less-than-favorable response to a prior announcement. In June, new IRS regulations on the determination of issue price went into effect, and despite some initial headaches, the new regulations appear to be working well and have been incorporated by underwriters and bond counsel. In October, the IRS published new proposed regulations interpreting the public hearing requirement for private activity bonds, which as promised featured a long-hoped-for “remedial action” option. And finally, an early Christmas present for bond lawyers everywhere: in October the IRS announced that it was withdrawing its much-despised “political subdivision” proposed regulations.
- While the IRS appeared to get President Trump’s “less regulation” message, the SEC and MSRB continued their aggressive enforcement efforts. In March the SEC voted to formally propose amendments to Rule 15c2-12 to beef up required disclosures by municipalities in connection with bank loans. And in August, the MSRB issued a warning to municipal issuers to avoid involvement in the selection of underwriter’s counsel. All indications are that the SEC and MSRB will continue to aggressively police the municipal bond industry in 2018.
- The Pennsylvania budget situation continued to be a mess. Governor Wolf’s budget proposal featured a variety of tax increases, which were soundly rejected by the Republican-led legislature. A spending plan was quickly agreed to, but without the revenue needed to pay for it. The final spending plan again avoids broad-based tax increases (at the relief of many) in favor of one-time revenues from a securitization of Tobacco Settlement Funds, among other things.
- For local governments, high fixed costs and declining revenues continued to be a problem in 2017. Generating revenue through asset monetization remained an option for struggling municipalities faced with severe blight and new government mandates, including stormwater management.
- And finally, Tax Reform! The end of 2017 saw the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first successful attempt at comprehensive tax reform since the passage of the 1986 Code. A number of versions of the bill were introduced, some of which would have been devastating on the municipal bond industry. We wrote about the impact of the final legislation on the municipal bond industry here.
To all our readers – thanks for visiting! And may you all have a happy and prosperous new year!
– Tim Horstmann
Monetization is the process of converting assets into economic value. Looking for options to generate greater revenue, municipalities and public sector entities have begun to consider the transfer to private operators of a greater variety of public assets than in the past. There has also been the development recently of more creative and profitable public-private partnerships. Continue Reading Generating Value from Public Assets
Blight – or urban decay – reduces property values, has been linked to higher crime rates, and is visible throughout Pennsylvania in the form of deteriorated and abandoned properties. The Pennsylvania Neighborhood Blight Reclamation and Revitalization Act, 53 Pa.C.S. §6101 et seq. (the “Act”), provides additional tools to combat blight. Originally passed as Act 90 of 2010 (“Act 90”), the Act subsequently was amended through the passage of Act 171 of 2014 (“Act 171”) and Act 34 of 2015 (“Act 34”). Through the Act and related laws as well as financing opportunities, municipalities and developers have the tools necessary to reduce blight and make neighborhoods safer and more desirable.