Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Abatement Give-and-take

City Councilman W. Wilson Goode has been trying for years to alter the city's 10-year property-tax abatement for new construction, a program he has called a tax break for the rich.

His latest attempt links the abatement to the Philadelphia School District's yearly budget crises. (About 55 percent of the property taxes go to the schools.)

Last year, Goode introduced a bill that would end the abatement on the school portion of the property taxes - meaning only 45 percent of the value of a new home would be eligible for an abatement.

In response, the city commissioned a study that found ending the break would slow development, eventually costing the schools and the city money.

Goode and Finance Director Rob Dubow had a testy exchange about the legislation Wednesday in a Council hearing - Goode told him he should change his name to "Rob money from the schools."

The abatement was designed to make building in a city with high labor costs attractive. Goode said the city should seek a new way to subsidize construction.

"Why wouldn't we create an incentive that didn't take money away from the School District?" he said.

"We're looking at the long-term effect on the schools and on development," Dubow said. "This legislation costs us development."

- Troy Graham

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