Wednesday, February 10, 2016

City Council finalizes budget plan

City Council just finalized a budget plan today that would delay Mayor Nutter's property-tax overhaul for a year and raise $40 million for schools.

City Council finalizes budget plan


City Council just finalized a budget plan today that would delay Mayor Nutter’s property-tax overhaul for a year and raise $40 million for schools.

Council gave the final OK to provide the school district with $20 million through a small property-tax hike. Members voted 12-4 with Council members Jannie Blackwell, Bill Green, Dennis O’Brien and Brian O’Neill voting against it. Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez was absent. Another $20 million will come from a business tax increase known as the use-and-occupancy tax. The latter was approved last week despite strong opposition from the business community.

The money raised from the property-tax increase will go into an accountability grant and is contingent on the school district meeting some of the requirements of an accountability agreement crafted by Council.

Nutter wanted to shift to a property-tax system based on market values, known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), collecting $94 million for schools along the way. But Council was uneasy about making a decision before the assessments were complete.

The administration warned that a ruling by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) could cost the city and the school district more than $100 million in appeals if AVI isn't implemented. At issue is the accuracy of the property assessments currently being used to calculate the city's tax bills.

State legislation sponsored by Rep. John Taylor that would exempt Philadelphia from the STEB ruling was approved by the House and is currently before the Senate.

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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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