Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council Gives Preliminary Approval To Budget With Property Tax Hike, Stalls Soda Tax Legislation

City Council today gave preliminary approval to a temporary 9.9 percent property tax increase, but did not move Mayor Nutter's proposed soda tax legislation out of committee.

Council Gives Preliminary Approval To Budget With Property Tax Hike, Stalls Soda Tax Legislation

There´s been a lot of changes since Mayor Nutter presented his budget (above) in March. He backed the need for a sugary beverage tax, but Council only approved a 9.9 percent property tax hike Thursday. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
There's been a lot of changes since Mayor Nutter presented his budget (above) in March. He backed the need for a sugary beverage tax, but Council only approved a 9.9 percent property tax hike Thursday. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)

City Council today gave preliminary approval to a temporary 9.9 percent property tax increase, but did not move Mayor Nutter's proposed soda tax legislation out of committee.

Nutter lobbied hard for a soda tax as part of his $3.9 billion budget plan. He originally proposed a tax of 2 cents per ounce, which faced massive opposition from the soda industry, local unions and business owners – who launched a huge campaign against the proposal. More recently he was gathering votes for a 3/4 cent per ounce tax, but couldn't get to 9 votes in time today.

"We need nine votes," said Councilwoman Marian Tasco. "The mayor has a week to talk to people."

Nutter’s original budget proposal also included a $300 per-household trash fee. But council balked at the trash fee, preferring a property tax hike, which they said was less regressive. Still, many members didn’t want to do a double-digit property hike, which led to the 9.9 percent agreement, set to last for two years.

More coverage
 
Council OKs budget, not soda tax
 
Soda industry offers $10 million donation to stop tax
 
About that smokeless tobacco tax...
 
Beverage industry sweetens offer to back off tax
 
Green: Council can't act on budget bill
 
Nutter Visits Council Members Seeking Budget Deal
 
DiCicco: Soda lobby may offer more cash to kill tax idea

The tax proposal must get final approval from Council next week.

Nutter has put the budget deficit for the coming fiscal year at up to $150 million. The property tax plan yields about $88 million annually. Nutter also agreed to cut an additional $17 million. If Nutter does not get the soda tax in some form, his aides have argued that the city's surplus fund balance will dip dangerously low. But some on Council weren't so sure.

"We have a proposal without sugar [beverage tax], which gives a $40 million plus fund balance," Councilman Darrell Clarke said.

Council also approved proposals to tax some tobacco products and increase trash collection fees for commercial properties, which will enhance revenues further.
 

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
 Follow Chris on Twitter

Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
 Follow Sean on Twitter

PhillyClout Team
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected