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Local Councilman Takes A Stand On Controversial Property Tax Abatement

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)--A Philadelphia city councilman wants to force members of the School Reform Commission to take a public stand on the city’s controversial 10-year property tax abatement, a tax break that costs the school district millions.

Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr.’s latest effort to revise the tax abatement comes in the form of a bill that would require the School Reform Commission to vote on its continuation or its elimination.

“It would be up to the School Reform Commission to decide. They could probably, under this authority, suspend the abatement, they could change the abatement. But they would decide how the abatement should continue or if it should continue.”

Under the abatement, owners of new properties in the city don’t pay property taxes for the first ten years, and more than half of the abated revenue would have gone to the school system.

Goode says his goal is two-fold: to make it clear that SRC has a formal say on the abatement, and to force SRC members to take a public stand.

“We should be clear legally about whether the school district should have the authority to decide whether its tax revenue is abated or not. And the SRC should take a stand either way.”

Goode had earlier proposed that the abatement as a whole be scaled back in various ways, and he also proposed the elimination of the portion that would have gone to the district. His colleague Bill Green, who supports the continuation of the abatement, believes Goode’s latest proposal would curtail new construction in the city, and thus ultimately hurt the district.

“In the out years there will be less construction, and ultimately the school district will receive fewer resources. It’s a bad policy. No matter how you frame it or how you try to pass it, it’s bad policy.”

Goode’s proposal will be debated in committee this fall.

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