Monday, August 3, 2015

POSTED: Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 5:52 PM

Despite Philadelphians smoking less, they are still smoking enough to help fund city schools.

As the 2015 fiscal year wrapped up Tuesday, state, city and school district officials were confident they would get the $49 million they were expecting from the new $2-per-pack cigarette tax.

Philadelphia's $2-per-pack cigarette tax took effect last October as a way to help plug a $71 million deficit this past year and continue providing much needed money for the schools in future years.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 6:31 PM
Mayor Michael Nutter. (DAVID MAIALETTI/Staff Photographer)

Mayor Nutter announced Tuesday the members of a new Commission on Universal Pre-Kindergarten, who will look at the cost, space and staffing needs associated with providing an education to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the city.

The Commission, which met for the first time Tuesday and are expected to meet monthly until they submit a draft report to the mayor in January, will be led by Co-chairs Sharon Easterling, executive director of the Delaware Valley Association for Education of Young Children, and Loretta Sweet Jemmott, vice president for Health and Health Equality at Drexel University.

The members of the commission are the following:

POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2015, 7:35 PM
Several community and nonprofit groups and at least one city councilwoman are crying foul over the city’s upcoming tax lien sale on tax delinquent and typically blighted properties. (PlanPhilly)

At the 11th hour, several community and nonprofit groups and at least one city councilwoman are crying foul over the city’s upcoming tax lien sale.

The city is scheduled to start selling 1,400 tax liens on Wednesday in an online auction, in which it hopes to bring in some money on its vast stock of tax delinquent and typically blighted properties.

The lien sale process would give private investors the ability to foreclose on those tax-delinquent properties and to place fees and interest on the liens in hopes of one day recouping the money.

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POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2015, 3:29 PM
City Councilman Ed Neilson may resign to run again for the state House. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)

Ed Neilson, a member of City Council for 10 months, appears ready to resign this week so he can run in his third special election in four years.

Democratic ward leaders in Northeast Philadelphia unanimously voted Tuesday evening for Neilson as their party's candidate in an Aug. 11 special election to fill the vacant 174th District state House seat, according to Neilson spokesman Frank Keel.

Neilson may resign from his at-large Council seat on Friday, Keel said.  Council's summer break starts that day.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 7:18 PM
Matt Stanski, the district’s chief financial officer, said the district would like to see BRT go through the appeals quicker. (MICHAEL BRYANT/Staff Photographer)

It's looking like the city will not get its estimated $543 million in real estate tax revenue for this year, after all. The school district will also fall short on its estimated $679 million real estate tax projection.

The city’s fiscal watchdog, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, will be releasing its quarterly financial report Wednesday that shows a drop in projected real estate tax revenues — $14.8 million for the city and $20 million for the School District.

The reason: The Board Revision of Taxes is still going through the 25,000 appeals from 2014. And, while a property owner is in the appeal pipeline, that owner gets to pay the old tax bill without any fees or penalties.

POSTED: Thursday, June 11, 2015, 3:02 PM

Seven political committees will each be paying $1,500 in fines for not filing their most recent campaign finance reports on time, the city’s Board of Ethics announced Thursday. Those committees are:

1. Anna Verna Committee
2. Bob Brady for Congress
3. Friends of Andy Toy
4. iHeart Media, Inc. – Clear Channel Outdoor PAC
5. ILA Local 1291 PAC
6. Phila AFL CIO PAC 
7. Society Hill Towers PAC

Except for iHeart Media, which is based in San Francisco, the other committees are all based in Philadelphia. Any PACs that donated money to candidates for city offices were supposed to file their Cycle 2 reports (which runs from Jan. 1 to May 4) on May 8. Failure do so would result in a penalty of $250 for each day the report is late.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 4:01 PM

Philadelphia could be left behind in the dust when it comes to pension reform.

Legislators in Harrisburg are considering two bills that would require municipalities to enroll new employees in a new type of pension plan, similar to a 401(K). Both bills, as currently written, exclude Philadelphia, which has a $5.7 billion pension fund deficit.

The sponsors of the bill -- state Reps. Keith J. Greiner (R-Lancaster) and Seth Grove (R-York) on the House side and by state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr. (R-Blair) on the Senate side – say the two bills would address rising pension costs and deficits across the state. The pension liability among all the municipalities is tallied at nearly $8 billion, of which $5.7 billion is just from Philadelphia.

POSTED: Friday, June 5, 2015, 3:03 PM
Mayor Nutter delivers his budget address with City Council President Darrell L. Clarke in the background. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)

One of the biggest differences between Mayor Nutter’s school funding plan and City Council’s plan is who would control the money.

As my colleague, Julia Terruso reported in today’s Inquirer, City Council offered a plan Thursday to increase three different taxes - property tax, parking and Use & Occupancy – for an estimated revenue total of $70 million. (The school district asked the city for $103 million).

Nutter previously proposed increasing property taxes by 9.3 percent for a total new revenue of $105 million.

About this blog

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

Inquirer City Hall Staff
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