By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The budget season is over at Philadelphia City Hall. City Council has passed a $3.6 billion budget, ending a tumultuous three-month stretch during which tough decisions were made on how to make ends meet.
Council decided to raise property taxes by just over 3.5 percent and increase the Use and Occupancy Tax on businesses to provide $40 million in new money to the school district. But, that’s less than half of what Mayor Nutter and the School Reform Commission sought.
Council also chose to delay the Mayor’s proposed property tax reforms for a year.
Council President Darrell Clarke says in spite of the difficulties, he commends the Mayor for moving toward overhauling a broken property tax system.
“From our perspective, we just weren’t ready. But, there’s a commitment to move toward AVI and do it in a fair and equitable way.”
Clarke says his colleagues were not yet comfortable shifting to AVI.
“I’ve talked to my colleagues, some of whom have been here for 30-years. It’s more important to get it right than get it done expeditiously.”
“It was my 21st budget, and it was the hardest,” said Councilman James Kenney.
In order to give the School District of Philadelphia $40 million in new funding, Council voted 12-4 for a property tax hike to raise $20 million. The other $20 million would come from an increase in the Use and Occupancy Tax.
Councilman Bill Green was among those voting ‘no.’ “The drip, drip, drip of additional taxes must end,” Green said.
Mayor Nutter and the School Reform Commission sought an extra $94 million for the cash-starved school district.
The operating budget was approved by a 15-1 vote, as Green was the lone ‘no’ vote.
The Mayor says despite the challenging budget season, his operating and capital budgets were left intact.