Councilman Wants to Use Property Tax to Support Libraries

City Councilman Bill Green is about to introduce legislation that would ask voters if they want to divert part of the local property tax to support the Free Library of Philadelphia.

The proposal would take 3.1 mills -- worth about $33.48 million per year-- from the tax to pay for libraries. That is roughly the amount the city will pay for the library system in the fiscal year that starts in July.

City property taxes are set at an overall 82.64 millage rate. Currently 40 percent of property tax revenue goes to the city and 60 to the School District. Green's proposal would divert funds from the city's cut, leaving the School District funding intact.

Green said his staff found a 1961 state law that allows the dedicated funding. Those same staffers filed a legal challenge late last year, halting Mayor Nutter's plan to shutter 11 libraries as part of a budget cut package.

Nutter is expected to introduce next week a city budget that increases for two years the property tax rate by 17 percent.