Councilman Suggests a Higher Property Tax Bump, Soda Lobby May Offer Cash To City

A Council hearing on the tax proposals to balance the budget has kicked off and Councilman Frank DiCicco seems to be making a play to revive his proposal to hike the property tax by 12 percent.

DiCicco previously introduced legislation for such a hike – which would raise $107 annually – but pulled it two weeks ago, citing lack of Council support. Instead Council is now considering a property tax hike at around 9.9 percent.

But today, DiCicco questioned Finance Director Rob Dubow on whether the city would get closer to solving the budget gap with a 12 percent hike.

DiCicco said that a single 12 percent hike would basically take care of the city's budget problems, and would replace the need for a series of smaller taxes. "It's the responsible thing to do," he said.

In addition, DiCicco said an offer was brewing from members of the soda industry to provide $10 million over two years to the city for health and wellness programs. He said those funds -- which would be provided if the proposed soda tax goes away -- could also help bridge the gap.

Edward J. Hazzouri, a lobbyist for the American Beverage Association, said members of the beverage association were considering providing funds through the Pew Charitable Trusts to fund various health efforts.

Nutter originally proposed a local soda tax of 2 cents per ounce, but recently has proposed the tax at 1/2 cent per ounce or 3/4 cent per ounce. He has argued that the tax would provide health benefits and revenue for the city.