Philadelphia City Council budget deal gives half a loaf to schools

It took hours of negotiations, but Philadelphia City Council agreed on a budget last night.  The deal will give the schools $40 million more that it got from city taxpayers this year.

Council President Darrell Clarke said Thursday night that finding the necessary votes to raise the use and occupancy tax $20 million for the schools wasn’t easy.

“We did what we can do to get the necessary support and up until maybe a couple hours ago we didn’t have the support for all the revenue that we were able to pass,” said Clarke.

Councilman Jim Kenney voted against the tax hike, saying it was unfair to businesspeople.

“It affects across the board — small, medium and large businesses. I don’t think it’s the right thing to do at this time or anytime,” said Kenney.

The budget also raises property taxes $20 million, but delays Mayor Nutter’s property tax overhaul for a year.  The total dollar figure was far short of the $94 million Nutter and the school district were asking for.

Nutter says it’s all about finding money for the children.

“We can spin all around and talk about all this other stuff,” said Nutter. “At the end of the day there’s an eight-year-old thinking about how am I going to get a high quality education and what are the adults in Philadelphia doing about it?”

Philadelphia will continue with a city-wide re-assessment of homes and businesses.  It just won’t start using those new figures to calculate property taxes until the budget year that begins July 2013.

Council is set to take its final vote on the budget next Thursday, but it’s virtually assured to pass.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.