Philadelphia City Council unconvinced on Nutter plan for tax assessment changes

Philadelphia City Council will begin hearings Monday on Mayor Michael Nutter’s proposal to overhaul the city’s tax-assessment system and generate another $90 million in property taxes.

Administration officials will be facing a chamber of skeptics

Two years ago, Philadelphia property owners endured a 10 percent tax hike. Last year, another 4 percent was added for city schools. Both increases were labeled temporary and scheduled to end this June.

But Nutter’s plan to complete a reassessment of city real estate and overhaul the property-tax system will result in property tax revenues rising another 8.5 percent compared with last year.

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Councilman Brian O’Neill says residents are not in favor.

“You can’t be reauthorizing new taxes that were temporary or passing new taxes without a separate vote,” he said. “I mean, that’s just transparency and credibility.”

Administration officials say they are letting the temporary tax hikes expire, and that the revenue increases would come from assessments reflecting rising property values.

Nutter said last week he understands council members are getting complaints from their constituents.

“This is a tough one. I get it, I understand that. We all just have to kind of bite the bullet and do what needs to be done to create a fair, equitable and accurate tax assessment system,” Nutter said.

Because the new property assessments won’t be finished until the fall, many Council members say the city should wait until the next budget year to complete the planned overhaul.

Council and the mayor have until the end of May to enact a tax plan for the budget year that begins July 1.

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