Councilman Jones: Nutter’s Property Tax Hike Proposal a “Heavy Lift”

City Council members are up for reelection this year.

Councilman Curtis Jones. Photo | City Council Flickr

Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.; Photo | City Council Flickr

Before Mayor Michael Nutter even gave his final budget address Thursday, there were signs his plan to raise property taxes was on life support.

Nutter is going to propose this morning a 9.3 percent increase in the property tax rate to provide an infusion of cash to the city’s financially troubled schools. The Philadelphia School District is facing an $80 million budget deficit in 2015-16, and has asked the city for an extra $103 million.

Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. said Nutter’s proposed tax hike is “a heavy lift an election year, but not impossible.”

All of City Council, except for retiring Councilwoman Marian Tasco, is up for reelection in 2015. To make matters more complicated, Nutter’s plan comes a year after new tax bills went out for the first time following his Actual Value Initiative, a citywide property reassessment that caused some residents’ bills to go up and others’ to drop.

“What we want to do is figure out how to get $100 million to the school district,” said Jones. A property tax increase “is not the only way to skin that cat, and we are going to look at other ways to do it because, quite honestly, after AVI, after several other tax increases, some of my members would find it hard to sell to their respective districts.”

The school district has also asked the state government for an additional $206 million to implement Superintendent William Hite‘s vision for Philly’s schools. Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget plan would provide roughly $160 million in new basic and special education spending.

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