By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A surprising twist came today in a city councilman’s effort to scale back Philadelphia’s controversial ten-year tax abatement on new properties.
Councilman Wilson Goode had originally proposed reducing the abatement slightly, so that only the first half-million dollars of a property value would be eligible for the abatement (see related story).
But he has now withdrawn that bill, which had been poised for a final vote.
Instead, Goode is now pushing a plan to scale back the abatement more drastically. His new measure would end the abatement on the portion of property taxes that goes to the school district -– roughly half — leaving only the city portion abated.
Goode says the city should be helping students, not developers.
“The opponents of this bill suggest that we should go find funding for schools elsewhere,” he said today. “I suggest that we go find funding for development projects elsewhere, other than school tax revenue. Every project does not need the current tax abatement, but every school absolutely needs more money.”
Goode’s new measure will now be debated in committee.
Supporters of the ten-year tax abatement say that it spurs new development in the city, and thus broadens the tax base even if property taxes are abated.
The debate comes with City Council and the mayor still at odds over how to get an emergency $50 million to the school district (see related story). For a second straight week, Mayor Nutter was unable to convince any member of Council to introduce his legislation, which would use an extension of a portion of the city sales tax.
Councilmembers prefer Council President Clarke’s approach, which is to lend the money to the district and then recoup the cash by selling vacant school properties (another related story).