Budget Address Set; Could Be Raucous Affair

This isn't the first time Mayor Nutter has cursed in public. ( David Maialetti / Staff Photographer )

Mayor Nutter plans to give his budget address on March 14.

With the recent unveiling of the numbers from a citywide reassessment and with unresolved labor contracts for three of the four major municipal unions, the speech could be the most interesting and raucous in years.

Last year, city workers packed the upper galleries in Council chambers, repeatedly shouting, heckling and interrupting the mayor during his address.

Nutter’s relationship with the unions hasn’t gotten much better since – the mayor recently moved to impose contract terms on the city’s blue collar union, AFSCME District Council 33, and he is fighting an arbitration award to the firefighters. Contract negotiations with the white collar union, District Council 47, remain unresolved as well.

As for Nutter’s property tax reform effort, the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), the mayor plans to release a budget that shows some level of tax relief and a possible tax rate, Finance Director Rob Dubow said today.

On Friday, the city began mailing out the results of a citywide reassessment to owners of the city’s 579,000 parcels. Council will set the tax rate that would apply for next year’s tax bills during the coming budget season.

That rate depends on what kinds of tax relief are provided to homeowners. With no tax breaks, the administration has said the rate would have to be 1.25 percent, or $1,250 per $100,000 of value.

During a committee hearing today, Council President Darrell L. Clarke criticized the airing of that 1.25 rate since any tax relief measures would raise the rate. If Council then gives homeowners a $30,000 homestead exemption, for example, “it will appear that Council is increasing the rate,” Clarke said.

“All of a sudden, Council’s the bad guy,” he said. “I got a problem with that.”

But Dubow assured Clarke that the mayor’s budget would have tax relief and the resulting higher tax rate included. He did not elaborate.

Giving homeowners tax relief means the rate must raise to collect the same amount of money, meaning owners of other types of property would have to pay more. Homestead and other forms of relief also are unlikely to benefit owners of the city’s most expensive homes.

Click here for Philly.com's politics page.