Morning Headlines: City Is Giving a Pass to Its Worst Tax Deadbeat

You might say it’s giving it a transpass.

Photo | Ben Schumin.

Photo | Ben Schumin.

When you think of people who owe property taxes, you imagine an out-of-town landlord who doesn’t care that his blighted building is falling apart. You don’t tend to think of a major public agency that owes millions of dollars, but that’s the story here: SEPTA owes the city almost $22 million. Given that much of the city’s property taxes go to the schools, and given that the city is ready to sell its soul to fund the schools, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn it’s giving SEPTA a pass on that hefty bill.

It doesn’t seem as though the city necessarily wanted this to become public. Here’s how philly.com’s Sam Wood puts it:

A new 30-year agreement between the transit agency and city goes into effect on July 1 and it absolves SEPTA of the requirement to make good on the delinquency, which came to light in data collected by an economist at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. Philly.com recently obtained the data.

And here’s the least persuasive answer to the question of why SEPTA hasn’t paid its taxes–an answer that sounds like something a kid would say when asked why he didn’t turn in his homework:


Asked last week why SEPTA had never paid the tax bill, Gerald Maier, SEPTA’s real estate director, responded: “I thought we didn’t have to.”

The rest of the article is depressingly shocking. It's a must-read.

One of Philly's worst tax deadbeats, SEPTA, to have $22M bill wiped from books [philly.com]

Here's more of the news so far...
Philadelphia Convention & VIsitors Bureau leases space at 1601 Market [PHL Biz Journal]
Skyscraper game of Tetris breaks world record [AP via philly.com]
Someone Bought a Building With Loads of History on Norris Street [Naked Philly]
National Trust Releases its 27th Annual List of America's Most Endangered Historic Places [Planetizen]

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  • kclo3

    How is it shocking? As part of the deal, the City is relieved of the underground concourse they own and maintain, and SEPTA itself is spending $53 million to improve them. As long as future taxes are paid for, negotiating tax delinquency with a public agency is the least of the City’s concerns.

    • Byron C Mayes

      Wait, none of that seemingly pertinent information appears in this article. It’s as if we’re only getting part of the story.

      Surely not here. Say it ain’t so, PhillyMag!

  • John Winans

    Who do they think they are, the NFL?

  • Dude

    This is a good decision for both sides.

  • nissi-n-philli

    Now we know why Septa’s employee want to strike……….because Septa doesn’t pay its bills. Stop all of the cheating and stealing from our babies and pay up!!!! The next thing you know, they will holding up a sign like this guy, because they are at the end of their rope, remember don’t get ad at him, at least he’s telling the TRUTH……..

  • Arby

    The City makes out in the deal. SEPTA takes control of the Concourse. Nuf said.

  • Nathanael

    Why would you expect SEPTA to pay property taxes? It’s a not-for-profit!

  • Natalie S.

    Maybe if the unions weren’t asking for ridiculous increases, SEPTA would be fine to pay it. Yet they say SEPTA has all this extra money from the state. Bet they don’t take this into account.

    However, even if SEPTA is deliquent and should pay this money, what is the alternative? SEPTA shuts down because it can’t pay property taxes?