Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Is the Sheriff what's wrong with tax collection?

To continue with our moderately obsessive coverage of the future of the Sheriff's Office, we thought we'd highlight this op-ed from the Inquirer today, by John Kromer, who is running for Sheriff on the platform that the office should be abolished (this seems a bit strange at first blush -- is the Sheriff the right person to eliminate the position of Sheriff? Kromer explains that his role would be to work with other entities in the system to transition to a world without a Sheriff). Anyway, here's Kromer's case in today's piece:

Is the Sheriff what's wrong with tax collection?

To continue with our moderately obsessive coverage of the future of the Sheriff's Office, we thought we'd highlight this op-ed from the Inquirer today, by John Kromer, who is running for Sheriff on the platform that the office should be abolished (this seems a bit strange at first blush -- is the Sheriff the right person to eliminate the position of Sheriff? Kromer explains that his role would be to work with other entities in the system to transition to a world without a Sheriff). Anyway, here's Kromer's case in today's piece:

Four public agencies play key roles in Philadelphia tax collections: the Licenses and Inspections, Law, and Revenue Departments, and the Sheriff's Office, which administers auctions of tax-delinquent properties. L&I's performance has improved greatly under the Nutter administration, and the Law and Revenue Departments have performed reliably and consistently. The Sheriff's Office is the weak link.

The office does not have the capability to scale up the number of tax-delinquent properties brought to auction, and it can't transfer clear title to auctioned properties in a timely, reliable manner. Philadelphia's tax-collection process therefore has little credibility, and irresponsible investors and developers are quick to take advantage of it.

He goes on to argue that the Office won't do better as long as it's headed by a politician accountable essentially to no one.

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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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