City Council would raise property taxes by 3.5 percent instead of introducing a tax on sugary drinks, in a proposal Thursday to rescue the Philadelphia School District from the $629 million financial chasm it has fallen into.
In a deal that must weather the test of time -- perhaps an hour or two -- a mjaority of Council members have decided that a property tax hike is preferable to painful cuts in the city budget or a "soda tax" that might go down in a court battle. They reached that conclusion about 2 p.m. after a morning of testimony on the city budget, followed by closed-door bargaining in President Anna C. Verna's office. Members shuttled in and out to avoid having a quorum and therefore a violation of the state Sunhine Act, as reporters stood outside counting bodies.
Council is expected to vote the budget out of committee today for a final vote on June 23.
A day of fevered negotiation started with any property tax proposal dead by most accounts, and Mayor Nutter close to a majority for the tax on sugary drinks, at 1-cents per ounce, rather than the 2-cents per ounce that Nutter wanted.