City Council ready for home-opener

Posted: September 14, 2012

FUN AND SUN are done for City Council, which returns Thursday from a summer legislative break with a number of big issues to tackle this fall.

Here are some of the hot-button topics on Council's agenda:

Property taxes

This is the big elephant in the room. Although Council doesn't have to approve a budget until June, there are sure to be continued discussions about Mayor Nutter's planned shift to a new property-tax system based on market values, also known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI). Council delayed AVI for a year because members were concerned about approving it before assessments were complete, and they were uneasy about setting the tax rate.

Finance Director Rob Dubow said that Council will receive detailed data from the administration in December and reassessments will be mailed out to property owners in February.

"We will not move without the appropriate information," said Councilman Jim Kenney. "It's critical. We can't determine how to protect people if we don't have the numbers."

Sick leave

Councilman Bill Greenlee has been trying to garner support for a proposal that would require most city employers to provide paid sick leave. Greenlee says the bill, which Nutter squelched more than a year ago, will make a comeback.

Land bank

In February, Council members Maria Quinones-Sanchez and Bill Green introduced a bill to create a land bank for city-owned vacant lots and properties. A seven-member board would manage the process of redeveloping more than 10,000 city-owned lots and properties. Sanchez hopes to move on the legislation this fall.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said that the "administration supports the goals of having a simple transparent way of disposing of vacant property in the city" and expects that a "land-bank type of operation" will be established within the next year.

Thursday's agenda

* Ever try to avoid crashing your car into children as they were peddling goods in the street for a fundraiser? Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown wants to examine ways to monitor such fundraising activity. She will introduce a resolution calling for hearings on the issue.

* Councilman Bobby Henon will introduce a bill that would overhaul the property-maintenance code, which lays out the rules for maintaining residential and commercial properties.

* In response to the shooting death of Officer Moses Walker Jr., Kenney will introduce legislation to establish a "hero" panel that would determine on a case-by-case basis if the city should pay for funeral expenses of uniformed employees.


Contact Jan Ransom at ransomj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5218. Follow her on Twitter @Jan_Ransom.

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