Darrell Clarke: Fund Philly Schools By Cracking Down on Tax Deadbeats

Council president says selling commercial liens would reap “millions of dollars.” Nutter spokesman says the city needs "real plans."

Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr

Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr

A Philadelphia lawmaker has a plan to fund the city’s schools and crack down on tax deadbeats at the same time.

City Council President Darrell Clarke introduced a bill Thursday that would expand the local government’s ability to sell liens on commercial properties.

He says it could raise “millions of dollars” annually for Philadelphia’s schools. He did not provide a more specific figure.

“Not only do our schools receive immediate new funding, but the time-consuming and costly endeavor of chasing tax delinquents will be shared with the private sector,” Clarke said in a statement.

Currently, the city can sell liens on commercial properties. Clarke’s bill would remove a handful of restrictions on the sales.

Mayor Michael Nutter has proposed raising property taxes by 9 percent in order to provide an extra $105 million to the city’s cash-strapped schools. So far, City Council has panned the idea.

“Mayor Nutter is asking for another tax hike from homeowners to fund our struggling school system,” said Clarke, “but this city cannot say with full confidence that it is doing everything it can to collect from those who owe.”

School district officials have asked the city for an extra $103 million in the coming year. Nutter’s aides says the property tax hike is the most dependable, sustainable way to deliver that money. Any cuts to the city’s budget would lead to reduced city services, they say.

Mark McDonald, a spokesman for Nutter, says the administration will consider Clarke’s legislation.

He added, “Anyone who is proposing ways to help the school district needs to detail how they will come up with at least $103 million for the fiscal year starting on July 1. Philadelphians are looking for real plans that will benefit their school children.”

McDonald says the city has improved its tax collection efforts in recent years.

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