Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Council questions if Harrisburg will thwart AVI

Is Harrisburg going to kill Mayor Nutter’s property-tax plan?

Council questions if Harrisburg will thwart AVI

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Finance director Rob Dubow said the administration is trying to figure out what to do if Harrisburg doesn’t pass a crucial bill involving AVI.
Finance director Rob Dubow said the administration is trying to figure out what to do if Harrisburg doesn’t pass a crucial bill involving AVI.

Is Harrisburg going to kill Mayor Nutter’s property-tax plan?

Today, Council is yet again debating Nutter’s plan to reform the broken property-tax system and raise an additional $94 million for the school district in the process. But Nutter needs Harrisburg to pass several bills before he can push through his proposal. A crucial one would let the city adjust its millage rate, which is used to calculate property-tax bills.

At a hearing this morning, Council members Bill Greenlee and Mark Squilla asked the administration what the back-up plan is if Harrisburg balks.

“If we don’t get that ability to lower the millage, what do we do then?” asked Greenlee. “We’re hearing that there’s problems in Harrisburg with that.”

Rob Dubow, the city’s finance director, admitted, “That’s a real problem.” He added that the administration is trying to figure out what to do if Harrisburg doesn’t pass the bill.

“We are trying to consider options,” he said. “Getting that is crucial.”

Last week, “It’s Our Money” reported that state Sen. Larry Farnese is planning to propose an amendment to the bill that would allow the city to adjust its property-tax rate. The amendment would bar the city from collecting more money for the school district from the reassessment process itself. If the amendment passes, Council would probably have to vote on the property-tax overhaul and school funding separately.

Farnese’s communications director Cameron Kline said the bill likely hasn’t moved forward simply because legislators are sorting through a complex issue.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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