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Archive: June, 2012

POSTED: Friday, June 29, 2012, 10:20 AM

Council wrapped up a very interesting session yesterday, and IOM's own Holly Otterbein will be on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, along with WHYY's Dave Davies and Tom MacDonald, this morning at 11 to discuss it. Topics will include AVI and Darrell Clarke's first session as Council President. Tune in!

UPDATE: In case you missed it, you can listen to the analysis here.

Doron Taussig @ 10:20 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 8:32 PM

In today's It's Our Money editorial, we argue that after years of property-tax hikes, it's time for the city to make real cuts. (Here's a breakdown of how we calculated how much the city has raised taxes compared to how much it has cut.)

We suggest that officials use this summer to start planning cuts for next year.

Check out the editorial, which appeared in the Daily News, below:

POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 8:14 PM
Michael Karloutsos says he didn't pay for utilities at Water Works Restaurant or Boathouse Row Café because he never received a bill. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

Last month, we reported that Philadelphia taxpayers paid years of utility bills for a private business. Now, we have found that the city paid utilities for another business owned by the same politically-connected man.

Check out the article, which appeared in the Daily News, below. You can also listen to the story on WHYY.

SOME PEOPLE have all the luck.
In May, It's Our Money reported that taxpayers covered hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility bills for Water Works Restaurant & Lounge, a private business owned by the politically connected Michael Karloutsos.
Now, It's Our Money has found that taxpayers also paid for utilities used by Boathouse Row Café, another business owned by Karloutsos. He leased space in city-owned Lloyd Hall, which he shared with the Parks and Recreation Department. From 2006 to 2010, the city paid for the cafe's electricity, gas and water.
Visitors at Lloyd Hall, which is a few hundred feet away from the Water Works Restaurant, can play basketball and take in a gorgeous view of the Schuylkill. Boathouse Row Café served sandwiches and coffee there.
Mark Focht, Parks and Recreation's first deputy commissioner, says he won't be able to estimate how much utilities cost at the café until he receives more data from utility providers.
Focht says "as far our staff knows," the city isn't paying for other for-profit businesses' utilities, with the exception of an "occasional electric hook-up for the food trucks in LOVE Park" — the cost of which, he says, is impossible to measure.

Holly Otterbein @ 8:14 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 11:41 AM

Today's Daily News editorial mentions that since the recession, the city has brought in $370 million through tax hikes, and cut $175 million in spending. Here are the numbers in detail.

Tax Hikes

We calculated the revenue generated by each tax hike by taking the taxes collected each year and subtracting the tax revenue projected for that year in Fiscal Year 2009, before the recession hit.

Doron Taussig @ 11:41 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 8:23 PM
Councilman Bill Green believes that businesses’ property tax bills, in the aggregate, would stay the same. Other Council members argue that small businesses would get hit with tax increases.

Last month, Councilman Bill Green argued that businesses overall would get a property tax cut under Mayor Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI).

But now Green says that’s no longer the case. He believes that businesses’ property tax bills, in the aggregate, would stay the same. His projection changed because the circumstances have changed, which shows just how fast-moving this debate is.

Earlier this year, Green said that AVl would move the tax burden from businesses to homeowners. Currently, the average commercial and industrial properties are assessed more accurately than houses, he said.

Holly Otterbein @ 8:23 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 11:29 AM

In this week’s podcast, we helped you calculate what your new property tax bill could be under Mayor Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI). He wants to remake Philadelphia's broken property-tax system by reassessing all properties in the city.

But if you’re as nosy as us, you’re also curious about what people throughout Philadelphia will be paying.

The Philadelphia Public Interest Information Network has put together a map that shows how different neighborhoods could be affected under AVI. It uses a 1.8 percent rate. (If you’re wondering why everyone is talking about a 1.8 rate these days, it’s because a Council consultant has estimated a total value of about $80 billion, and finance director Rob Dubow agreed last week that’s a “reasonable” number for analysis. He says that would mean the tax rate would likely be between 1.6 and 1.8 percent.)

Holly Otterbein @ 11:29 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 10:26 AM
The reassessment could dramatically change your property tax bill — for better or worse. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

By now you've probably heard that the mayor and City Council are in the midst of debating a property tax reassessment. Under this new plan, some people will pay more in property taxes, while others will pay less. But we know the primary concern of most Philadelphians is probably not policy issues — it's how much they'll have to pay in property taxes once the new assessments kick in.

City Council hasn't finalized its property tax plan yet, but enough information has emerged for you to make a preliminary estimate at what you'll be paying after the reassessment — if it passes.

On this week's It's Our Money podcast, we walk you through the calculations. We want to stress that this is still speculation. But it's educated speculation. If you want to see these numbers in print, check out Philly Clout's rundown.

Doron Taussig and Holly Otterbein @ 10:26 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 4:30 PM
City finance director Rob Dubow.

Philadelphia City Council members have long complained that Mayor Nutter hasn’t given them enough information about the ramifications of his proposed Actual Value Initiative, or AVI. Under AVI, Nutter wants to fix Philadelphia's broken property-tax system by reassessing all homes and businesses in the city, and raise an extra $94 million for the school district in the process.

Now Council members say the administration has drastically changed the little information it did provide, and this makes some more skeptical about passing AVI.

Earlier this year, the Nutter administration gave Council a taste of how AVI could affect specific neighborhoods. The analysis used an estimated tax rate of 1.25 percent for when AVI would fully go into effect. 

Holly Otterbein @ 4:30 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
About this blog
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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