PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Mayor Michael Nutter today vetoed a bill that would have lowered the city’s parking tax slightly in two years, and the sponsor of the measure couldn’t muster enough votes for a veto override.

The bill to lower the parking tax was approved last month by a 12-5 vote (see previous story), normally enough to override a mayoral veto.

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But when Mayor Nutter vetoed the measure today, Councilman Jim Kenney found that some of those 12 “yes” votes had flipped.

“Apparently the mayor has learned to lobby in the last couple of days,” Kenney told Council.

He said four council members changed their minds on lowering the parking tax, but he wouldn’t name who.

Councilman Brian O’Neill was an original “no” vote and spoke out against helping the parking industry.

“This industry does not bring tears to my eyes. At all,” O’Neill said.

The measure would have reduced the parking tax rate from 20 percent to 17 percent over three years, starting in mid-2013.

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Rob Zuritsky of the Parkway Corporation left Council chambers disappointed.

“We’re suffering. We’re asking for a very, very minor cut,” he told KYW Newsradio.

But in his veto message, Mayor Nutter said this is the wrong time to adopt new tax breaks, particularly for a single industry. He said rolling back the parking tax would cost the city $24 million over five years, something he argued that Philadelphia can’t afford.

Zuritsky and other members of the parking industry counter that they were singled out when the tax was raised two years ago, and that the lost revenue could be reclaimed simply by having city auditors going after rogue parking lot operators who don’t pay taxes.

Kenney says he’ll reintroduce the bill next year, when Council will have six new members.

Reported by KYW City Hall bureau chief Mike Dunn

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