Has Mayor Nutter changed his tune on how to overhaul the property tax system since he was a councilman?
As you know, Nutter has proposed shifting the city to a property tax system based on market values, a move known as the Actual Value Initiative. The property tax revenue expectations Nutter has set for the coming fiscal year mean that he is memorializing two tax hikes billed as temporary, as well as collecting an additional $90 million next year for the schools.
Critics have called this move a tax hike, while Nutter has insisted he’s just capturing the increase in property values in the city. A lengthy battle with City Council over the proposal seems likely.
But back in 2004, it looks like then-Councilman Nutter was concerned about just this happening. That year, Nutter sponsored legislation which would require Council to set tax rates in such a way that any shift to market value assessments would have to be revenue neutral. The bill became law after Council overrode Mayor Street’s veto.
At the Council meeting where the bill was unanimously voted into law, Nutter said: “This bill would seek to protect property owners from the system going to a hundred percent value without Council being involved in the process to then lower the rates to an appropriate level.”
A lot has happened since 2004. The Nutter administration took over asssessments from the Board of Revision of Taxes after an Inquirer series chronicled a legacy of patronage and faulty assessments. It's also taken much longer to go to a market value assessment system than expected.
The administration says the old law is not an problem. Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said the proposed tax legislation before Council would include a repeal of this ordinance.
“We don’t see this legislation as an issue at all,” McDonald said, noting that the Nutter administration has since 2009 said that revenue neutrality was not the goal for AVI.