Philly.com reports that yesterday the Philadelphia City Council gave preliminary approved to a budget bill that would delay the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) for one year and would provide much needed funding to the School District of Philadelphia through a property-tax hike and an increase to the use-and-occupancy tax. This new budget could receive final approval before the end of next week.
“We are moving toward a process, but we are simply not prepared to do that now because we don’t have any numbers that reflect the outcome of whatever action we take and we just don’t feel that it was prudent, appropriate,” said Council President Darrell Clarke. “And we don’t think it’s fair to the taxpayers of the city … to enact legislation without any numbers.” He stressed that the deal wasn’t finalized and could be revised before the end of June.
Nervous and concerned citizens came out in droves as rumors of excessive tax increases associated with the AVI swirled on Facebook, Twiiter, blogs and other social media. This caused support for Mayor Nutter’s plan to wane, especially in the last week or so.
“Council’s biggest gripe was that it couldn’t get firm data from the administration on property values and the likely tax rate. In April, the administration provided Council with charts suggesting a possible 1.2 percent tax rate under AVI, but officials more recently said that a 1.8 percent rate could be possible, based on a new estimate of the total property values in the city.”
Thankfully the uncertainty and outrage about passing a budget with unknown property values caused some members of the Council to take pause:
“I don’t want to guess at one of the most important votes of my career or one of the most important votes in the city’s history,” said Councilman Jim Kenney. “I don’t want to guess at the number so we’re going to put it off for a year.”
At the end of the the decision to postpone was the right decision. The AVI initiative ultimately should and will be passed but doing so without knowing the precise effects it would have on property owners in Philadelphia, especially in gentrifying neighborhoods, would be cavalier.
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Frank L. DeFazio, Esquire
Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors – Society Hill
530 Walnut Street, Suite 260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
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