Next year’s budget debate already under way in Philadelphia

Mayor Michael Nutter signed Philadelphia’s new budget just before the July 1 deadline.

Already, members of City Council are talking about not waiting until the last minute to approve the next one, which will include a property tax overhaul.

The next city budget must include the Actual Value Initiative, which means new property tax assessments reflecting current values will be used to calculate tax bills beginning in July 2013.

Councilman Jim Kenney says he wants protections for city residents so that their property taxes won’t skyrocket overnight.

“If you’re a middle-class Philadelphian, and have moved into the city into some of the neighborhoods that are improving because of your presence, that’s not the way you should reward them or punish them with a $6,000 increase in one year,” Kenney said. “There’s got to be some cap as to what your exposure is.”

Councilman Bill Green says waiting before using the new assessments gives time to make sure the transition is easier.

“If we get the information in the fall, which the administration says will be available, we’ll have plenty of time to figure out carefully and narrowly tailored measures to protect the people who need to be protected from this massive shift and to keep the rate as low as possible,” he said.

Councilwoman Marian Tasco says preliminary numbers indicated residents in her district would get smaller property tax bills. But as more assessments come in, she found out their taxes would go up.

“It’s a tough climate, we’re trying to make do the best we can to deal with a tough situation and at the end of the day we hope it will level itself out,” she said.

Council members say waiting a year gives the city time to do AVI right.

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