2 takes on Nutter's budget: Tax sunsets and public access

    Philadelphia has a big budget gap to close. The budget Mayor Nutter will propose to City Council next week is expected to include service cuts and tax hikes. But those tax hikes might have an expiration date. WHYY’s Susan Phillips has the first of two reports on the plan.

    Philadelphia has a big budget gap to close. The budget Mayor Nutter will propose to City Council next week is expected to include service cuts and tax hikes. But those tax hikes might have an expiration date. WHYY’s Susan Phillips has the first of two reports on the plan.

    Transcript:
    The mayor wants to increase the city’s property tax according to published reports. Property taxes could rise 17 percent. But it would have a “sunset” – a definitive date when it would end. In this case – two years.

    Wharton professor Robert Inman says as long as its temporary, the long-term negative effect would be minimal.

    Inman: “My reaction is that the mayor’s proposal of a short-run tax increase and also significant savings on labor costs and other services is a good temporary strategy but again I stress that this only is an effective strategy in protecting the long run prospects for the economy if it indeed exists within a two-year window of a sunset.”

    Inman’s research shows that if residents feel the property taxes are raised without an equivalent improvement in city services, they will leave the city. But he says a tax increase that lasts a couple of years wouldn’t have that effect.

    ——————————————-

    By: Tom MacDonald
    tmacdonald@whyy.org

    WHYY’s Tom MacDonald has the second report on the plan.

    Another major element of the Philadelphia budget this time is public input.

    The four budget forums gave people a chance to comment on the spending plan and Mayor Nutter says he’s taking all of it into consideration in handling the city deficit.

    Nutter: “The public’s concerns as expressed in any number of forums will be a large component of what drives ultimately the decisions that I make, and that we make as an administration.”

    Harris Sokoloff of the Penn Project For Civic Engagement directed the forums. He says now the mayor has to show people how their ideas were used.

    Sokoloff: I don’t know that people will ever embrace the budget fully, but if they can understand it better they’ll at least be more empathetic.

    Sokoloff says public support will be key to getting approval on a budget.

    Listen:
    Click on the play button below or right click on this link and choose “Save Link As” to download.

    [audio: reports20090312double.mp3]

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