Philadelphia isn't alone in seeking to raise taxes. Three of 12 other large U.S. cities studied in a new report issued today by the Pew Charitable Trusts are also looking to generate new dollars by doing so.
The report takes a look at how Philadelphia fits in the mix with other cities facing budgetary problems. To read the report, go here.
Here's a bit from this morning's press release.
Only New York is looking at two major tax increases, in property and sales. Philadelphia had been in that category until last week when Mayor Michael Nutter abandoned his plan to seek a property tax increase in addition to raising the sales tax. Neither city has approved its budget for the coming fiscal year.
The two others considering major tax hikes are Atlanta, where a property tax increase is on the table, and Columbus, which is considering a higher income tax. In some cities, including Boston and Los Angeles, major tax increases are all but impossible to enact—the result of state laws, ballot initiatives and constitutional restrictions.
“We found that almost every city we studied has a significant budget problem on its hands, largely due to falling tax revenues, decreased state aid and weakened pension funds,” says Larry Eichel, project director of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “But the size of the problem varies dramatically from place to place, as do the strategies for dealing with it.”
Alone among the cities studied, Pittsburgh has a modest surplus (1 percent) for the current budget year. Among the others, Philadelphia, with a one-year budget gap of about 11 percent, is roughly in the middle, with some cities, including Detroit, facing gaps of about 20 percent.
Rather than raise broad-based taxes, most of the cities studied are emphasizing service cuts and coupling those cuts with furloughs and freezes on salaries. One way or another—through attrition, early retirements or layoffs—each of the cities with a budget gap is seeking to reduce the size of its workforce and/or its personnel costs.