Non-profit water bill discount escapes repeal

    Philadelphia City Council has decided not to end a decades-old discount that the city’s non-profits receive on their water and sewer bills. The heated discussion on Tuesday could be a sign of things to come.

    Philadelphia City Council has decided not to end a decades-old discount that the city’s non-profits receive on their water and sewer bills. The heated discussion on Tuesday could be a sign of things to come.

    Transcript:
    Residents packed Council chambers, where non-profit representatives, ranging from the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance to the Christ Community Baptist Church spoke out against a proposal to eliminate the 25 percent discount. They had a champion in Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell.

    Blackwell: “Small churches, small storefront churches, that exist just try to sell hope. These are people that the city affects and where you’re not gonna get any real money because their buildings don’t generate any real money.”

    But the larger non-profits that do generate money include The University of Pennsylvania, which gets an annual discount of $1.1 million. And Temple University saves about $450,000 a year on its water and sewer bill.

    Councilman Jim Kenney warned that if Council cannot get behind ending these discounts, they could have an even tougher time when Mayor Nutter presents his budget cuts next week.

    Kenney: “Whats coming next week is gonna be devastating. It’s gonna be a bear. This one seems to be a pretty relatively easy lift. If we can’t do the easy lifts before the bear is released from the cage, what are we gonna do?

    The money saved by charging nonprofits full price would not help keep libraries and pools open, because it would have stayed within the Water Department and does not go into the city’s general fund.

    Listen:
    Click on the play button below or right click on this link and choose “Save Link As” to download.

    [audio: reports20090311water.mp3]

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.