By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The man hired by Mayor Nutter to ramp up the battle against tax deadbeats has now departed City Hall, but the mayor says his resolve to nab those who don’t pay will not ease up in the new year.
Back in April, Mayor Nutter named former PGW chief Tom Knudsen as the city’s first-ever Chief Revenue Collections officer, charged with bringing in tens of millions of dollars owed to the city in back taxes and other bills.
Now, Knudsen is gone:
“The plan has always been that Tom was going to be somewhat temporary. The original agreement was that he would be with us for six months. He ended up staying eight months,” says the mayor.
Nutter says Knudsen’s responsibilities and title have now been given to the Revenue Commissioner, Clarena Tolson:
“She has the same broad responsibility across the entire city government that Tom Knudsen had. We’ve collapsed two positions into one. Regardless of who’s in the position, we take it very seriously.”
So the tax man — or, in this case, woman — will still be knocking, says Nutter. He promises that in 2014 the effort to catch deadbeats will escalate:
“Some very exciting plans have come forward. You’ll be hearing about many of the new ideas very soon. We’re very serious about going after revenues that are owed to us.”
The city’s outstanding taxes are put in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but much of the debt is decades old and likely to be uncollectible.
The impetus on city officials to go after deadbeats rose in the wake of several years of tax increases, and the perception among some residents that the city could avoid such hikes if it did a better job collecting.