No budget deal in Philadelphia City Council

Philadelphia City Council still hasn’t worked out a budget settlement.  As debate drags on about overhauling property taxes,  it doesn’t appear consensus will be easy.

Problem number one is with property re-assessments not done, Philadelphia is estimating how much homes and businesses are worth altogether.  As the estimate is dropping, the propose tax rate necessary to fund city government is going up.

Councilman Bill Green says those ever changing numbers makes it tough to want to vote for the property tax overhaul.

“The shift from an estimate from the [Nutter] administration of 1.25 percent to what people are now saying 1.8 percent a fifty percent increase in people’s taxes in just a month and a half has really shaken people’s resolve,” said Green.

A bill to hold off the overhaul for another year is gaining some momentum.  Councilman Jim Kenney says he’s can’t vote for a plan that could raise a person’s property taxes in a gentrifying neighborhood from $1,000 to $6,000 overnight.

“I’m not prepared to vote for something that’s going to potentially raise people who have moved into the city and moved into the city in the last three five seven years to a five six-fold increase to the real-estate taxes to give money to the school district that in the past has shown in the past that it’s incapable of fixing itself,” said Kenney.

To pare back sticker shock, council is talking about a homestead exemption that would not charge taxes on the first $30,000 of home value.  Another proposal would cap how much taxes could grow for ten years on properties in gentrified neighborhoods.

Darrell Clarke, who became Council President just this year, says it’s a very fluid situation.

“This is the most challenging budget proposal that I’ve dealt with in my 12 years and it’s evolves in terms of the number of challenges put before us, that’s what you can’t say what exactly will happen,” said Clarke.

Clarke says council is close to reaching consensus, but then members would have to sell Mayor Nutter on their plan.

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