October 22, 2019
Maria Bentzoni from Famland Preservation, Sherry Acevedo from Open Space and Bushkill Township Supervisor Jason Smith presented on the benefits of Upper Nazareth adopting an Earned Income Tax (EIT). A referendum will be on the November 5th ballot.
The EIT is a tax collected from those citizens who earn an income from working. It will not be imposed on children or older residents. If approved by the voters, the Supervisors will have to pass an Ordinance to adopt it along with an Open Space Plan. Many preservation grants require matching funds, and the EIT revenue can be used for that.
Other townships which have EITs include Bushkill, Lower Mount Bethel, Upper Mount Bethel, Lower Saucon, Moore, Plainfield and Williams.
Farmland and Open Space preservation are voluntary programs. The landowners have to approach the County to participate. Once the easements are purchased, the land can never be developed.
Currently, Upper Nazareth has preserved 360.14 acres; another 1,200 acres have the potential be protected.
EIT Funds can be used for:
- Farmland Preservation Easement purchases
- Natural Areas Easement purchases
- Fee simple land acquisitions
- Park land purchases
- Park land development
- Park land improvements
- Historic or cultural resource protection
- Environmental restoration
- Protection of watersheds/water quality
- Protection of wetlands
- Protection of forests and wooded corridors
- Protection of greenway corridors
- Protection of rivers and streams
- Protection of scenic viewsheds
- Protection of vulnerable/rare species habitat areas
Jason Smith, a Bushkill Township Supervisor, explained why his township adopted the EIT. Bushkill formed an Environmental Action Committee, or EAC, to protect streams, woodlands, farms and, most importantly, the Bushkill Watershed. Development typically costs more money than it brings in, causing housing values to drop, and increasing expenditures. Open Space saves residents money. Just being located next to a park or farm raises property values.
UNT has formed an Open Space Committee. Their next meeting is November 19th at 6:00 pm.