Here are are few:
U&O tax: A few weeks ago, Council proposed hiking the use & occupancy tax as a way to come up with at least part of the $94 million the district has requested. This seemed to be a reasonable compromise: not only would it ease the burden of getting all that money from property taxes, but given that individual property owners have seen two tax hikes in as many years, it's a fair idea to spread the burden to businesses, especially since many commercial properties will end up being the winners in the new system.
That is, until the business community got up in arms. Suddenly, Council started backing away from the U&O option. We'd like to know: Wouldn't it be nice if citizens had as much impact on our government as special-interest groups? Maybe it's time homeowners formed a PAC.
Never mind: it's too late.
Tax delinquents: The city has failed to collect more than $500 million in delinquent property taxes. Some of these go back 20 and 30 years. It's hard to choose which is more outrageous: that our property-tax system has remained broken for so long, or that the collection system is also broken. Given the current inability of the city to collect taxes, AVI is going to push that delinquency number up even higher, especially if AVI tries to increase revenues instead of being revenue-neutral.
We'd like to know: While homeowners applying for gentrification protection must be current on their property taxes, those applying for homestead exemption need not be. That should change. Also, why can't AVI legislation build in an extra hammers — like a surcharge, for example — on those bills going out to property-tax scofflaws?
No AVI: It's possible that Council will pass a bill authored by Mark Squilla that would delay AVI. This will mean a new set of complications: Council will have to find another way to get money for the schools, if it is so inclined. But this also creates a big problem for the mayor. Vetoing the AVI delay bill would be a nuclear option, creating a big hole in the city budget and jeopardizing school money even further.
One bright spot: For all its complications, the property-tax overhaul is pretty much an information-free zone. Part of that is because there are so many moving targets, including incomplete assessments. But there is a group of taxpayers who could get a better sense of what's in store — those who recently bought a home, and so have a reasonable idea of its value.
The Philadelphia Public Interest Journalism Network has created an interactive AVI impact map that allows you to see recent home-sale prices, the current property tax, and the new tax under AVI (assuming a 1.8 percent millage rate.) Check it out at: ppiin.org/wordpress/avi-impact-map/ n