New taxes bring protesters before Philadelphia City Council

The question of how to pay for additional school costs continues to be a problem for Philadelphia City Council. Opponents of new taxes offered their 2 cents’ worth Wednesday before the council.

Adding to the “liquor by the drink” tax would be disastrous for bars and restaurants that already are paying taxes their suburban counterparts do not, testified John Longacre of the Philadelphia Licensed Beverage Association.

“In Philadelphia, we have wage tax, business income receipt tax, gross receipt tax, sales tax that is 2 percent higher than everybody else, across the bar tax, hotel tax, tobacco tax, liquor tax, use and occupancy tax, school income tax, amusement tax, mechanical amusement tax, parking tax, valet parking tax, outdoor advertising tax and, my own personal favorite, the Philadelphia Parking Authority tax,” Longacre said.

Pleading for the city’s help in ensuring her children have a proper education, resident Sara Calderon also testified.

“They need to have teachers and staff and counselors and nurses to run all their programs, not just the core subjects,” she said.

And members of the building industry also came out to oppose a plan to cap housing abatements at $250,000.Such a move would kill development, said Brian Emmons of Toll Brothers Builders.

“With the tax abatement getting ready to expire for some of our early purchasers in the next two to three years, the city of Philadelphia will start realizing the true impact and benefit that the tax abatement has had,” he said. “We estimate that once the tax abatement expires, Naval Square alone, just one community, will generate $5 million a year in tax revenue.”

City officials also are considering a $2 per pack tax on cigarettes as well as the “liquor-by-the-drink” tax hike to raise revenue for the struggling Philadelphia School District.

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