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    Mayor proposes committee to review tax structure

    With the city facing a projected $1 billion budget shortfall, the region’s business community welcomed Mayor Michael Nutter to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce annual Mayoral luncheon on Tuesday. At a budget briefing on Monday night city officials laid out potential cuts and potential tax increases, both of which could have big impacts on the business community. WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports.

    With the city facing a projected $1 billion budget shortfall, the region’s business community welcomed Mayor Michael Nutter to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce annual Mayoral luncheon on Tuesday. At a budget briefing on Monday night city officials laid out potential cuts and potential tax increases, both of which could have big impacts on the business community. WHYY’s Elizabeth Fiedler reports.

    [audio: reports20090210taxstructure.mp3]

    Transcript:

    Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce President Mark Schweiker says most business leaders will be open-minded as the Mayor makes his budget choices, because they’re no strangers to tough decisions.

    Schweiker: “Whether it’s launching a new product and perhaps it didn’t succeed and you have to pull it back, or letting go a troubled employee.  No business person begrudges the mayor’s need to have it all on the table in a figurative sense.  Even the prospect of a tax increase – it’s not desired, it’s not attractive, it certainly raises the cost of doing business.  But as long as it’s a matter of sharing the difficulty and the pain across the city then the business community has a willing ear.”

    Schweiker says the business community understands the financial challenges and tough choices the Mayor faces, and he wants people to remember the decisions that have helped Philadelphia in the past, too.

    Schweiker: “The idea of tax cuts over the last 14 or 15 years has helped this city not only grow but provide jobs and paychecks to its residents.  One piece of research I saw indicated without those tax cuts we probably would have lost an additional 32,000 jobs.

    Project Management businessman Blaine Stoddard says the city can save money by outsourcing more work.

    Stoddard: “In the city housing departments the city does their own appraisals – they should farm that out.  They do their own housing inspections – they should farm that out.”

    Stoddard says the city could soften the blow by asking firms getting outsourced contracts to hire the laid-off city workers who used to do the jobs.

    Mayor Nutter says as he struggles to close a projected 1-billion-dollar budget gap, he’s also looking to see how he can improve the city’s economic future. At the luncheon Mayor Nutter signed an Executive Order establishing a task force charged with figuring out how to overhaul the city’s tax structure to make it more business-friendly.

    Nutter: “I know that we’re uncompetitive with the array of taxes that we have and we need a broad view of just what we’re doing, how we match up with other cities, what kinds of things do other cities have that we don’t have and vice versa. But I’m looking for an entirely new tax structure for the city of Philadelphia.”

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