By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter says he is “interested” in looking at raising the city’s liquor-by-the-drink tax as a possible way to raise an extra $60 million for the Philadelphia School District.
Mayor Nutter wants to get the schools an extra $60 million, but after two years of property tax hikes, he is clearly hesitant to go in that direction again.
“We do have to recognize that we have raised (property) taxes two years in a row. And what is the capacity and the willingness by both elected (officials) and the citizenry to pursue that particular path? Or, are there others?”
One possible path to get to $60 million that Nutter says he’s willing to explore is a hike in the liquor-by-the-drink tax. That was first approved back in 1994, when Nutter was a councilman.
“My track record on that is pretty clear. It was a tough vote for a lot of folks. But, I thought it was the right thing to do then, and it’s certainly something we should explore now. Council President Clarke and I have talked about that. And I am certainly interested in that kind of proposal.”
The School District says it needs an extra $60 million from the city and $120 million from the state to help ease its cash crunch. Nutter says he is not going to put forth a formal proposal, but rather will find a solution in discussions with city council members.
The liquor-by-the-drink tax — now at 10 percent — affects retail sales of all wine, beer and malt beverages. The revenues — now at about $40 million annually — are earmarked for the School District.