By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s controversial new property tax system is now a step closer to reality, following a preliminary vote Wednesday in City Council.

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After days and weeks of private negotiating led by Council President Darrell Clarke, council members gave initial approval to a property tax rate of 1.34%. And they agreed set the homestead exemption at $30,000.

They set aside $20-million for other relief for residents of gentrified neighborhoods, and they agreed to a deferral program for property owners who face steep increases under the new values.

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Clarke is pleased with the whole package:

“I think this was a reasonable approach to providing this level of a rate, in addition to which having significant measures for protection of individuals who may find themselves in a position where they can’t pay their tax bills.”

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Council still must vote on the operating budget and is still weighing the mayor’s proposal for a hike in the liquor by the drink tax as part of the city’s bailout of the School District.