Soda tax dies again, but City Hall delivers $53 million for schools

The proposed soda tax is dead for a second time in Philadelphia, but higher real estate taxes are on the way.

After 12 hours of negotiations, City Council approved a property tax increase of nearly 4 percent to go to the Philadelphia schools. It also agreed to earmark about $10 million from the city surplus for school costs.

Coupled with a parking meter rate hike, that will deliver an extra $53 million for Philadelphia schools. Councilman Jim Kenney said the tax on sugar sweetened beverage pushed hard by Mayor Nutter didn’t win enough votes.

“I was not sure it would hold up under court scrutiny because the beverage industry was going to go immediately to court and try to enjoin us from to collect it,” said Kenney.

Bill Green said he and his Council colleagues made the best deal they could.

“The average homeowner is looking at $90 per year for one year and we just think that was just the best for people to make,” said Green.

School Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said the district didn’t receive as much money as requested. She’d been looking for a little more than $100 million.

But the district’s budget shortfall, estimated at $629 million, will get a little smaller.

“I’m pleased that we made progress and I’m pleased with what we have if that’s the best that we can do that’s the best that we can do and we are going to make it work,” said Ackerman.

Mayor Nutter said the deal might convince state lawmakers to restore some cuts.

“Ultimately the students of this city are the beneficiaries of hard work and effort by our administration and certainly city council,” said Nutter. “This is the kind of effort we need to demonstrate not only on the ground to show our support for public education but also in working with our partners in Harrisburg.”

The district is counting on close to $60 million additional from the state to close its deficit.

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