By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — No new taxes: that’s the pledge, for now, from the Nutter administration.
Mayor Nutter delivers his new budget to City Council a week from Thursday, and the spending plan is still being kept under wraps.
But Nutter’s spokesman, Mark McDonald, is willing to reveal one key component — there will be no requests for increases in the property, business, or wage taxes.
“The mayor’s view is that he has no intention of requesting any kind of a tax increase in support of the fiscal 2013 budget,” McDonald told KYW Newsradio this afternoon. “That (intention) will part of his budget address next week.”
Speculation about the possibility of higher taxes has been fueled lately by faltering tax revenues to the city in recent months, as well as the possibility that the cash-starved Philadelphia School District will need a larger city contribution.
McDonald says the mayor instead will present what he called a “lean” spending plan:
“Without going into the details of what we’re projecting in terms of overall revenue, I can say that we will present a document, both in the one-year budget and five-year plan, that will be balanced and will not have any new tax increases.”
The budget will also feature the end of what had been a temporary, two-year hike in property tax rates in effect for fiscal years 2011 and 2012. Nutter hopes to reclaim those revenues with higher assessments, a tactic that critics term a “back-door tax increase.”
McDonald rejects that characterization; he says assessments are sorely out of date and revenues from property taxes alone in Fiscal Year 2013 should remain level with the current year.
Word of Nutter’s plan to hold the line on taxes comes on the heels of a new poll from the Pew Charitable Trusts which found that 70 percent of Philadelphians rate the tax burden as a serious concern, a percentage that is significantly higher than in Pew polls done in the past two years.
At same time, nearly half were concerned about preserving city services that are paid for by taxes (see related story).