Council members unlikely to support property tax hike
The first of what is expected to become two months of testimonies and hearings to analyze Mayor Nutter’s budget proposal kicked off Tuesday, focused on the five-year plan.
The biggest question on next year’s budget is whether or not Nutter’s plan to raise property taxes to support Philly schools will survive.
Although Nutter’s property tax hike will be discuss after the May 19 primary election (Clarke scheduled a hearing for May 26), several council members expressed little support for this proposal.
"We had our workforce give up a little bit. We had our residents give up a little bit. We had our business give up a little bit.... What does $103 million in shifting of priorities in this city budget, using the same methodologies used before, look like?," asked Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez.
In addition to $103 million from the city, the School District of Philadelphia has requested $159 million from the state for the next fiscal year.
Council members said they expect to support Philly schools with additional funding, suggesting other options like funds from non-profits or smarter ways to save money between the city government and the school district.
Currently City Council contributes $326 million more annually to the school district than it did in 2012. However Clarke has said that the state needs to do more, highlighting that the annual contribution from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which took control of the District in 2001, has fallen by $148 million over the same time period.
Prior to the hearing, Clarke “challenged city departments” and announced all city agencies will be asked to specifically address support for public schools, income inequality and neighborhood decline.
“Analyzing, critiquing and ultimately approving the City’s budget is City Council’s most important responsibility,” Clarke said. “We are going to examine every line item and budget detail to re-evaluate how taxpayer dollars are spent – not by department, but by priority.”
You can follow updates and get information on the budget hearings at city council’s online budget center.