Philly controller foresees big property-tax hike by ’23 to fund schools

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 Philadelphia Controller Alan anticipates the city will raise its property tax to address what could be a billion-dollar school district deficit by 2013. (File)

Philadelphia Controller Alan anticipates the city will raise its property tax to address what could be a billion-dollar school district deficit by 2013. (File)

Philadelphia’s five-year budget outlook looks good, according to the city controller, with one exception.

Controller Alan Butkovitz’s review of the city’s five-year plan shows that Philadelphia is doing well managing its money.  However, he said he’s concerned that the school district’s future financial needs could mean a big property-tax hike.Butkovitz, who forecast a billion-dollar district deficit by 2023, said it doesn’t appear more state funding will be available to help bail out Philadelphia schools.”If the dynamics in Harrisburg remain the way they are, which is likely, there is no rescue coming from Harrisburg,” he said. “The only local source of money for the schools is the real estate tax.”And to address a billion-dollar gap with higher property taxes would mean doubling that tax. That propspect is all the more unpalatable since many homeowners are already paying more as properties are reassessed. 

“We’ve long known the district is facing a major fiscal issue and, as we’ve said previously, we are working with our various funding partners, including city, state and nonprofits, on how to address that,” said Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Kenney.

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