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Taxes Under The Microscope Amid School District Cash Crisis

(School District of Philadelphia headquarters, near Broad and Spring Garden Streets. File photo by Mike DeNardo)

(School District of Philadelphia headquarters, near Broad and Spring Garden Streets. File photo by Mike DeNardo)

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) — Amid the latest Philadelphia School District cash crisis, City Council plans to put the Nutter Administration’s tax collection efforts under the microscope.

City Council has voted to hold hearings on whether the mayor and his people are doing enough to go after tax delinquents.

The effort was spurred by 1st District Councilman Mark Squilla.

“We’re in desperate times for our schools and for capital funds that we need,” Squilla said. “And to not have that money available, and to just say it’s too hard to do so, we’re not doing it, doesn’t make sense to me. We need to work together and come up with options and the ability to go after those deadbeats and really make them pay, instead of keeping constantly taxing the people who do pay.”

Squilla cites a Controller’s report from the fall of 2013 that estimated the city has more than $1 billion dollars in past taxes due.

Officials say much of the debt is decades old and unlikely to be collectible, though.

The decision to hold another hearing on tax collection comes after the Mayor launched several new efforts to fight delinquencies.

About a year ago, Nutter hired a former PGW chief to serve as the city’s first-ever Chief Collections Officer, and he moved the highly-regarded Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson into the post of Revenue Commissioner.

The Collection Officer, Tom Knudsen, has since left the administration.

Tolson last year told City Council she wants to change the culture in Philadelphia so that, “we’re proud to pay our taxes.”

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