DiCicco: Dump trash fee for property taxes

The Daily News reports this morning that City Councilman Frank DiCicco plans to push for an increase in the property tax as an alternative to the trash fee. According to DiCicco, a small increase in the real estate tax would be preferable to the trash fee proposed by Mayor Nutter.

DiCicco said that with a property-tax increase, there would be more protections for low-income families and senior citizens, while others could deduct the amount on their tax returns.

"If you do a trash fee, individual homeowners will not be able to write that off," DiCicco said.

So, how big of a hike are we talking about?

DiCicco said that based on data provided by the city, he thought that an overall increase of about 12 percent above the current rate - with all new money going to the city - would generate the $107 million that the trash fee would have provided annually.

This is big news. For starters, it could mark a dramatic shift from last year when Council scuttled a property tax hike proposed by Nutter. DiCicco's proposed increase is smaller -- Nutter wanted two increases over two years, one for 19 percent, and one for 14.5 -- and it would be temporary, unlike the trash fee. So it might be more palatable to other members of Council.

There could also be political implications here. DiCicco has been one of Nutter's strongest allies on Council. It's somewhat surprising that he offered this idea, and so soon after the budget proposal. DiCicco says he has consulting a few times with the administration as well as Council colleagues. No one has dismissed the idea out of hand, so we'll see how it all unfolds.

There's still the lingering issue of BRT reform, however. After the Inky detailed mismanagement and corruption in the agency, Nutter said that increasing property taxes should be off the table until the city's assessment process is reformed. We'll see if he shows any flexibility on this point (the Daily News argued that he should in an editorial this morning).

So what's the next chapter in the budget saga? Next Thursday, Council will hold a hearing specifically on the trash fee and soda tax. We can expect to hear a lot about DiCicco's idea as well -- and other alternatives to the trash fee, if Council has any.

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