Council wants more detail on why schools need additional revenue

Councilman Jim Kenney today pushed the administration on why Council should support providing additional revenue to the embattled school district.

Mayor Nutter has proposed shifting to a property tax system that would use market value assessments, an effort known as the “Actual Value Initiative” (AVI). So far Nutter's budget plan has been greeted with caution in Council, because Nutter wants to bring in an extra $90 million in revenue for the school district in the coming fiscal year. Critics call the move a “back door tax hike,” while the administration says they are just capturing an increase in property values.

At a budget hearing this morning, Kenney questioned why the schools need the extra money, saying: “The $94 million in additional revenue that is projected as a result of AVI and the millage adjustment, can we justify it?”

Finance Director Rob Dubow responded: “I think we can. I think that the [School Reform Commission] and the district administration understand that they have to justify it and they will justify it.”

But it’s clear Kenney will need more convincing.

“This AVI issue is probably going to be the most difficult and angry issue that we’re facing maybe since I came in here in Council in '92, when the government was on its heels,” Kenney said. I can’t yet find a justification for explaining to people I represent citywide why the additional $94 million makes sense.”