Now that Mayor Nutter has made his budget proposal, City Council is set to begin holding hearings to debate the details. To help keep you up to speed, we'll be publishing "cheat sheets" with important facts and figures about the department being debated, and telling you how and when to share your thoughts with Council. After the hearings, we'll solicit your "testimony," and hopefully wrap it all up by giving you a chance to design your own city budget.
Time and Location: Wednesday, March 17th @ 10:30 am, City Council chambers (4th floor of City Hall). The public is invited to testify after administration officials.
What it is: “Revenue measures” is really just a fancy term for how city government raises money. That includes taxes, fees, fines, and funds from the state or federal government.
How much $$$: The City's estimated revenue for next fiscal year is just under $4 billion. Local taxes account for 69 percent, while 21 percent comes from other governments. Permits, fines, and other non-tax revenue raise 10 percent.
Why it matters: If you pay local taxes (if you live, work, or ever spend money in Philadelphia, you do), you should be concerned about how those dollars are spent. This hearing is an opportunity for both the public and administration to influence City Council on tax policy.
What's in Nutter's plan? Nutter has proposed two new revenue measures: The Clean Philly Fee and Healthy Philadelphia Initiative. Under the Clean Philly Fee, Property owners would pay an annual $300 fee for sanitation services, generating $107.7 million. The Healthy Philadelphia Initiative would tax retailers that sell sugary drinks like soda, generating $77.2 million.
What to expect at the hearing: There will be a lot of resistance to both the of the new measures in Nutter's plan. Already, City Councilman Frank DiCicco has proposed increasing the property tax as an alternative to the trash fee. It will be interesting to see how city officials react to different ideas, including Pay as You Throw, which would charge residents based on the amount of trash they produce.
What happened last year: Originally, Nutter proposed increasing property taxes to help deal with the $1.1 billion budget deficit. City Council didn't like that idea, so the mayor switched to a sales tax increase instead. It eventually passed, but it took a while for Harrisburg to approve the measure, and city lost $20 million in expected revenue in the process.