Consider the 10-year property tax abatements on new construction and rehabilitation a down payment on a future gusher in revenue for the city thanks to the huge jump in construction activity it has triggered, argues a study released in late March by the Building Industry Association of Philadelphia.
The abatement, which freezes property taxes on improvements to commercial and residential property in the city for 10 years from completion, has completely reversed the trendlines for new construction activity in the city compared to its suburbs, states the BIA report, “Philadelphia’s 10-Year Property Tax Abatement” (PDF). Since its implementation in 2000, new home building in the city has increased by 376 percent, while in the suburbs, it has fallen 11.25 percent on average across the four collar counties.
That means a future flood of revenues into city coffers. Read more »
If you’re in a family way, and you’re looking for a place that can accommodate your new arrival, you might want to read this, for it could save you a pile of money in the early years.
A new study conducted by the caregiving site Care.com and the real estate search engine Zillow examined how much it would cost a family with very young children to live and raise them in the core cities and suburbs of 30 large and medium-sized U.S. cities.
On the whole, living in suburbia saves the typical American urbanite $9,073 annually over living in the central city, when mortgage costs, property taxes and child care costs are taken into account. But at the metropolitan level, this was not uniformly the case: in 15 of the 30 cities the study examined, living in the city cost less.
And nowhere was the savings greater than in Philadelphia. Read more »
On a sidewalk bench in Haddonfield, across Kings Highway from the Bistro, two frosty-haired high-heeled ladies are locked in perpetual conversation. Cast in bronze — the work of sculptor Seward Johnson — they sit day and night. It was raining steadily when I first encountered them in January. And while I couldn’t hear what they were saying, I felt certain they were trading notes on how much they planned to lower their property tax bills this year just by shopping in downtown Haddonfield.
In November, before the holiday retail season, borough officials announced the new Shop Haddonfield property tax reward program. It’s meant to encourage residents to patronize local businesses by essentially lowering their property taxes without costing the township a dime. How it works is simple — sort of. When residents buy something at a participating downtown shop or restaurant, they swipe their “property tax reward card” to receive a discount. But rather than collecting the savings on the spot, they get a credit against their property tax bill. Businesses choose whether to participate and set their own discount rates. Most hover between five and 10 percent. Read more »
Even though property taxes in Philadelphia remain low relative to the rest of the region, and much of the Commonwealth, many homeowners were upset when they got their new, much higher tax bills in the wake of the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) reassessments.
Now, multiply that reaction by at least 10 and you may approach the level of ire residents of some of the state’s less-well-off rural counties have expressed over similar hikes.
That ire has sparked a movement that could be on the verge of almost totally wiping out property taxes in the state. Though fueled largely by Tea Partiers and a part of the conservative movement, it cuts across ideological lines in strange ways. It could also have a host of unintended consequences if the bill the movement has drafted to bring about this near-total abolition actually does become law. Read more »
For the third time in less than 10 years, Philadelphia City Council is reaching the end of a debate on whether to impose a tax on soda and other sugary drinks. Former Mayor Michael Nutter tried twice to get a soda tax approved, pitching it primarily as a public health initiative with the added benefit of raising revenue. Both times, after intense lobbying from the soda industry, Council rejected the proposal.
Now, Mayor Jim Kenney is hoping the third time’s the charm. In his first budget, Kenney is calling for a three-cents-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. That’s higher than the rates Nutter asked for, but Kenney, despite occasionally pointing out that the tax would help fight obesity, says that this proposal isn’t about public health. It’s about money, he says — money for programs that many Philadelphians and City Council members say they support.
Unless you’re a City Council member, you don’t get to vote on whether to approve, reject, or amend the soda tax. But that hasn’t stopped dozens of industry lobbyists and advocacy groups from trying to sway the outcome. We’re likely to find out where it will land Wednesday, when Council holds its last scheduled budget hearing before taking a summer recess. At the moment, lawmakers seem to be uniting around a compromise soda tax, but that could very well change as anti-tax advocates turn up the pressure today.
Not sure how to feel about it all? Here’s the deal. Read more »
Councilwoman Cindy Bass said on Tuesday that her office is working on a bill that would raise the property tax rate in Philadelphia, as City Council continues to weigh alternatives to Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed soda tax. Bass declined to discuss details of the legislation. Read more »
The City of Philadelphia is coming into some cash next year. City Controller Alan Butkovitz released his monthly economic report today, in which he reveals that the City’s new property assessments could bring in around $30 million in new real estate tax revenues.
The increase in value is due to the increased assessment of the land portion of 36,778 properties. Real estate taxes will rise on average in 35 of Philadelphia’s 50 ZIP codes. (To name a couple: Center City—$1,013 increase. Northern Liberties—$489.) Taxes will fall on average in 14 and one will see no change. The sum of all these tax adjustments will come out to a net increase in real estate tax revenue of approximately $14 million for the city’s general fund and $17 million for the School District of Philadelphia. Read more »
1. The police department is going to start releasing the names of officers who fire at civilians.
The gist: City Paper reports that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey announced in a memo yesterday that “the department will immediately begin disclosing the names of officers who discharge their firearms in Officer-Involved Shootings ‘within seventy-two (72) hours of the incident.'” According to the memo, this was one of the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice in its scathing report on police shootings in Philadelphia. Also, the department will examine each case to ensure that “no threats are made toward the officer or members of their family prior to the release of this information.” Read more »