Saturday, February 13, 2016

City Controller: Philly's tax collection rate is unacceptable

More needs to be done to collect from tax delinquents.

City Controller: Philly's tax collection rate is unacceptable

City Controller Alan Butkovitz has not hid his desire to run for mayor in 2015. (File photograph)

More needs to be done to collect from tax delinquents.

That was the theme of City Council's second round of hearings Wednesday on tax delinquency --a major topic of concern as the city moves to Actual Value, a new property-tax system based on market values.

"It is unacceptable that Philadelphia ranks near the bottom of major cities in tax collection," City Controller Alan Butkovitz told Council. "It can be done and it must be done."

He and Council members expressed frustration with the Nutter administration's collection rate which an Inquirer series noted is lower than past mayoral administrations.

Councilman Jim Kenney said the Revenue Department and the administration have to have a "will" to change. Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson defended the city's tax collections strategy during Tuesday's hearing.

Other members questioned whether the city was doing enough to inform Philadelphians about payment plans.

"I don't know that we're doing the best job in making opportunities of payment known to citizens," said Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.

Monty Wilson, an attorney at Community Legal Services said the city needs to establish a law that will require all agencies to provide residents with the same information related to payment plans. He said the information provided to residents often varies.

"The system needs to be fair and consistent: ensuring that homeowners are offered the same opportunity whether they are dealing with the Revenue Department, the Law Department, or the city's co-counsel, the law firms of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson or GRB."

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to
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