PSA: Mayor Nutter’s Property Tax Hike Would Only Cost You a Cheesesteak a Month

spot-burger-cheesesteak-940

Say, can you spare a cheesesteak?

A new ad from the city government says that Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to raise property taxes by 9 percent would cost the typical homeowner an extra $104 annually. Need that translated into your favorite stereotypical Philly food? The ad (below) does just that: $104 is the price of “a cheesesteak once a month” or “4 soft pretzels a week.” Read more »

3 Arguments For, and 3 Against, Darrell Clarke’s Alternate School Funding Plan

City Council President Darrell Clarke laid out a plan last week to help fund Philadelphia’s cash-starved schools: He wants to sell liens on commercial properties, which he says could raise “millions of dollars” a year.

Clarke also suggested lien sales would give residents more faith in the city’s tax collection efforts. Currently, Clarke said, “This city cannot say with full confidence that it is doing everything it can to collect from those who owe.”

Tax lien sales have both major pros and cons. As the debate on education funding moves forward, let’s consider a few of them. First, the potential upsides:

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The Brief: Are the Mayoral Candidates’ School Plans “Bogus”?

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

Photo Credit: Matt Rourke | AP

1. Mayor Michael Nutter said the candidates running to replace him have proposed “bogus” school funding plans.

The gist: Nutter made the attack while touring a city school with Gov. Tom Wolf last week. He said, according to the Inquirer, “You cannot run around this school, shake hands with students, take pictures, read to second graders, talk to middle schoolers, inspire high school students, and then when you’re back at your office comfortably not put forward the money that they need to educate their students. Let’s cut the phoniness. Let’s be serious about educating kids.”

The six Democratic mayoral candidates oppose Nutter’s proposal to raise an extra $105 million for the city’s schools by increasing property taxes by 9 percent. They’ve offered other plans to boost funding, such as hiking the liquor-by-the-drink tax and selling tax liens.

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A Quiet Coup in City Hall

Inside City Council chambers. Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Inside City Council chambers. Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Half the audience is sweating before the debate even begins inside the packed, sweltering basement auditorium of Greenfield Elementary School. There are at least 400 people here, and while the crowd is perfectly civil, there’s still a bit of an edge to the mood. This is a high-stakes election; the proof of that is all around. There’s a documentary crew filming the candidates and audience, campaign volunteers are crawling all over the place, and an obligatory thickset white dude in an Eagles hoodie passes out unsourced fliers about the black candidate. All standard election-season fare in Philadelphia. Read more »

Squilla Rewriting UED Law Ahead of Expected Nutter Opposition

An urban experiential display outside of Reading Terminal Market.

The debate over 3-D billboards in Philadelphia isn’t over.

City Councilman Mark Squilla is proposing amendments to legislation allowing two digital ads — known as “urban experiential displays” — near the Reading Terminal Market and Convention Center.

Council passed the legislation last month, but Mayor Michael Nutter had concerns with it.

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Council to Nutter: Find Your $105 Million Somewhere Else

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

Close, but no cigar, Mayor Michael Nutter.

That was the general message from Council members at their hearing Tuesday on Nutter’s five-year fiscal plan, the first budget hearing of the season.

Lawmakers said they expect to provide additional money to the city’s cash-starved school district, but not in the way the mayor has suggested. In response to a request from school officials for an extra $103 million, Nutter has proposed raising property taxes by 9 percent in order to send slightly more than that, $105 million, to the district.

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Council Skeptical of School Funding Plan

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The City Council will begin two months of budget hearings today — with the biggest question being whether it will approve Mayor Nutter’s request to raise $103 million in new city funding for public schools.

The increase would be funded by a 9.3-percent hike on property taxes — and so far, KYW reports, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm.

Councilman Bill Greenlee doubts the Mayor’s plan will fly.

“A lot of us — and I’m one — feel that this almost 10-percent real estate tax increase is probably not the best way to go at this point,” said Greenlee. “Obviously there will be a lot of questions, and we got a lot of decisions to make.”

So over the ensuing weeks and months, expect City Council members to pitch their own alternative methods of raising that cash, including potential cuts to city services.

“I think there’s a combination of things that we could do that would help us generate recurring revenue, without looking at the property (tax) increase as the only option,” says Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez. “I think Council, as it has done in the last five years, we’re going to discuss all those options, discuss them with the Administration, and end up somewhere.”

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Philly Council OKs Massive 3-D Billboards in Center City

An urban experiential display outside of Reading Terminal Market.

Philadelphia City Council passed legislation Thursday to allow large-size digital billboards in a part of Center City near the Reading Terminal Market and Convention Center.

Critics of the ads — known as “urban experiential displays” — said they would be unsightly and lower the value of nearby properties.

“We’re not talking kiosks,” said Kiki Bolender, chairwoman of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia. “We’re talking about the house next door lit up like a billboard on I-95.”

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Council Candidates Line Up for a Share of Philadelphia 3.0 Dark Money

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

A screenshot from the newly-launched Philadelphia 3.0 website.

Here’s the thing about dark money in politics: a lot of candidates will tell you it’s a malevolent, undemocratic force—but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the money spent on them.

Case in point: 27 City Council candidates sought the endorsement of Philadelphia 3.0, the newly created dark money non-profit that seeks to “bring new voices into the city’s political conversation,” starting with City Council. There’s no word yet on which candidates Philadelphia 3.0 will select, or how much money they’ll spend on behalf of their chosen contenders. Read more »

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