City Council likely to move toward budget plan

It’s expected Thursday that City Council will make some movement toward a budget plan.

A number of budget bills will likely receive preliminary approval keeping as many options available as possible, but negotiations are still ongoing, according to several Council members. 

Among the proposals includes Mayor Nutter’s plan to shift to a new property-tax system based on market values known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI). Nutter wants to collect an extra $94 million for schools under AVI. Critics describe the move as a backdoor tax hike, but the administration has said it is capturing an increase in property values.

While there is still no consensus for any particular plan, sources have said there may be growing support for a package that could include Nutter’s controversial tax proposal and a proposal from Council president Darrell Clarke that would raise money for the schools through a smaller property tax hike and an increase in the Use and Occupancy tax for businesses. We first reported the Clarke compromise last week.

Budget discussions are expected to continue into next week when Council’s plan will likely become clearer.

It is unclear whether the school district will get the $94 million it has asked Council for. The latest figure we have heard tossed around is $85 million.

Sources say Council is now eyeing a homestead exemption that would knock off at least $30,000 from all homeowners’ assessed values. Members expect that they will continue to fine tune minor details related to some relief measures.