Sen. Farnese moves to thwart Mayor Nutter’s property tax plan

State Senator Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia) has thrown a wrench in Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s property tax re-assessment plan. The move comes just weeks before Philadelphia’s budget must be passed.

Sen. Farnese says there are numerous holes in Nutter’s proposal — the Actual Value Initiative (AVI).

“The first and most obvious problem with AVI is that the Mayor wants to implement a property reassessment scheme without, and this is amazing, knowing the actual property values,” said Farnese.

Mayor Nutter wants to fix Philadelphia’s broken property-tax system by reassessing all homes and businesses, and in the process, raise an extra $94 million for the school district. He argues that the city is expecting to collect these additional tax dollars because property values have gone up over the last decade.

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But Nutter needs Harrisburg to pass several bills before he can push through his plan. A crucial one would let the city adjust its property-tax rate.

Farnese is planning to propose an amendment to that bill, which would dismantle Nutter’s plan. The amendment would bar the city from collecting more money for the school district from the reassessment process itself.

“This was promised to be revenue-neutral from day one. Everyone in the administration that ever talked about the reassessment process talked about it being revenue-neutral,” said Farnese.

Mayor Nutter’s spokesman Mark McDonald says the administration does not support the amendment. He argues that revamping the property-tax system will give city residents the most accurate assessments in years.

Farnese’s amendment would likely force City Council to vote on two parts of Nutter’s plan separately: whether to give the schools more money, and whether to overhaul the property-tax system. This could erode support for Nutter’s plan on Council.

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