City Council Committee OKs $30k homestead, 1.34 property tax rate

Council President Darrell Clarke, left talks with fellow councilmen William Greenlee, Curtis Jones (partially hidden) and James Kenney before Thursday's session. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

Soon Philadelphians will have a much better idea of what they're tax bill might be.

After weeks of debate, a City Council Committee approved today two bills including one that would maintain the homestead exemption which would knock off $30,000 from a homeowner's assessment and set a 1.34 property tax  rate under the city's new property tax system known as the Actual Value Initiative. The homestead would help homeowners, some who will see large increases to their tax bill under AVI.

The Committee also approved a hardship tax deferral bill sponsored by Council members Kenyatta Johnson and Maria Quinones-Sanchez which would allow eligible property-owners to defer any amount exceeding 2.5 times their property tax bill until they can afford it or until the house is sold.

But weeks after a proposal to hike the liquor-by-the-drink tax by 5 percent was introduced in Council on behalf of the Nutter administration there has yet to be any movement on the bill which faces opposition not only among Council members, but also among state lawmakers. Council recently advanced Nutter's $2 per pack tax on cigarettes. Both bills would raise money for the cash-poor school district and need state enabling legislation.

Council president Darrell Clarke said the tax on booze is not yet dead, but he's waiting to see what will happen at the state level and wants more information on the collection rate. Clarke said Council will revisit the bill next week.

Council also has to approve an operating budget.