Kenney proposing ultra-low real estate tax rate for Philadelphia

A Philadelphia City Councilman wants to set the property tax rate far lower than what the Nutter administration is discussing. 

Councilman Jim Kenney’s bill would set the tax rate at 1 percent of the assessed value instead of the 1.25 percent the Nutter administration says is the minimum necessary to balance the city budget. Kenney says he wants the lowest possible real estate tax number.

“We are having continual conversations about 1.25, 1.32, 1.4 it’s all going in one direction,” said Kenney. “It’s a goal to have the discussion, to examine the budget process to look for potential revenues that are not new taxes and to try to make the gap.”‘

The gap Kenney’s referring to is how much less money his tax rate would generate compared to the administration’s desired minimum rate. The gap could be as big as $200 million. Kenney says that could be closed if council and the administration work together.

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“I think we need to be able to determine whether or not we are spending money properly or appropriately,” he said.

The Nutter administration has a policy of not commenting on bills until they reach a hearing, and so is not discussing this bill.

Both Kenney’s rate and the one favored by the Nutter administration would have to be raised if exemptions and rebates are offered.  Kenney says he’s worried about offering too many exemptions if that will drive the rate significantly higher.

“Everytime you try to help somebody from being hurt, you hurt someone else, that’s what happening in this whole discussion,” said Kenney.  “I certainly would like to do homesteads and gentrficiation and other things you hurt someone else and even though one [percent] is a stark number and the administration isn’t going to be happy about it, that’s a number everybody can understand.”

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