Nutter Confirms Temporary Property Tax Hike, Says No Police or Fire Layoffs

Mayor Nutter just announced that his upcoming budget won't include layoffs in the police or fire departments.  Nutter, joined by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers, also said there will be no closures of facilities or elimination of equipment.  His plan last fall to close libraries and eliminate fire companies drew legal challenges and prompted wide-spread controversy.

"I refuse to do anything that halts our progress on a march to a safer city," Nutter said. 

Nutter – who must close a five-year $1 billion budget shortfall -- is set to release his budget and five-year financial plan in City Council on Thursday.

Nutter also said that he plans to propose a temporary two year property tax increase of 19 percent over the current rate in the fiscal year that starts on July 1 and 14.5 percent over the current rate in the fiscal year that starts in July 2010. Although  real estate tax revenues are split with the School District of Philadelphia, the entire increase would go into city coffers, Nutter said.

Without that tax increase, Nutter said drastic cuts would be required, including police and fire layoffs.

Advance versions reviewed by the Daily News and reported on last week showed Nutter was planning temporary hikes to sales and property taxes, as well as service cuts.  Nutter said the property tax hike was changed from 17 percent for both years -- as the Daily News had reported -- because an increase deterioration in revenues is going to make the next fiscal year a "financially challenging year."

Nutter said the increase would mean homeowners would likely see a tax increase of $50 a month or less.

Nutter also stressed that he does not want to make an increases -- temporary or otherwise -- to the wage or business taxes.

"We will not take temporary steps that will have a devestating long-term impact," he said, noting that planned reductions to the wage and business taxes were already frozen in a round of budget cuts last fall.

Councilman Bill Green said he didn't agree with the strategy. "I don't think we should have anything off the table at this point," he said.