City Council approves property tax rate, new cigarette tax

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke with Council members Mark Squilla and Maria Quinones-Sanchez

Philadelphians can now figure out what their tax bill will be under the Actual Value Initiative, the city's new property-tax system.

City Council approved today a 1.34 percent property-tax rate and to maintain a homestead exemption that would knock $30,000 from a homeowner's assessment. 

The bill passed 11-5 with Council members Kenyatta Johnson, Bill Green, Mark Squilla, Brian O'Neill, David Oh voting against it. Councilwoman Marian Tasco was absent.

Meanwhile, Council president Darrell Clarke amended a bill that would provide relief under AVI for longtime homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods. The amended bill allows for means-based gentrification relief. State enabling legislation is expected to soon be approved.

Council also approved a new $2 per pack cigarette tax, one of two bills proposed by Mayor Nutter to raise money for the cash-strapped school district. The bill passed 16-0. Another bill that would increase the liquor-by-the-drink tax from 10 percent to 15 percent, raising $22 million has been stalled. Clarke opted against calling the bill up for a vote yesterday in a Council Committee hearing. The measure has been met with some pushback from Council and state lawmakers.

Both bills require state enabling legislation. 

Parents and school advocates urged Council to support an alternative school funding proposal sponsored by Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez that would raise $30 million through an increase to a business tax known as use-and-occupancy. Nutter opposes this measure and it's not clear there is support on Council for it. There's still time though, if Quinones-Sanchez gets enough support for her bill, Council could vote on it at its last scheduled session next week.