New report for City Council backs up Nutter administration’s property tax assertions

Philadelphia City Council now has the results from its own study of who would be helped and hurt by the city-wide property tax re-assessment.

The report produced by Council staff collaborating with the independent group Econsult fills a three-ring binder and essentially confirms what the Nutter Administration has been telling people — only about 10 percent of those in the city would see their property taxes increase by more than $400.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell isn’t satisfied.

“It still doesn’t answer the questions about how they come up with different assessments in different areas and how one block could quadruple and in the same block it could not change at all or even be lowered,” said Blackwell.  Council has been pressuing the Nutter administration for the internal details of how assessments were put together, in hopes of understanding disparities.

Council President Darrell Clarke says the report assumes that everyone who qualifies for property tax relief programs, such as the Homestead Exemption, will enroll.

“At this point we’re not close to that, we’re close to 50 percent participation on homestead and we need a very significant and aggressive push to get people qualified for that provision,” said Clarke.

As part of passing a budget this spring, council will have to adopt a new property tax rate that takes into account the new assessments.  The more money covered by exemptions, the higher the  property tax rate must go to raise the same total for the city.  

Within the city and council, there are different camps — some prefer avoiding exemptions in order to set the lowest rate possible.  Others are pushing for more generous exemptions and a higher rate.

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