"We've known since we bought the house that the city was under-taxing us, dramatically," Mandel said. "We aren't happy to pay more but we know that fairness matters, accuracy matters. . . . We need a system that assigns correct values to our real estate."
Butkovitz accused Mandel of being "a shill for the business community," estimating that the reassessment would lead to a $200 million reduction in commercial real estate taxes, while the tax burden would shift to residential homeowners.
If annual real estate taxes were set at 1.25 percent of the new market values, 60 percent of Philadelphia homeowners would receive higher tax bills next year, Butkovitz said. If City Council establishes homestead exemptions or other relief programs to ease the impact on low-income citizens, it will drive the overall rates higher, meaning higher tax bills for up to 80 percent of residents, Butkovitz said.
Mandel suggested a system of tax deferrals that would not have to be paid off until people sell their homes. "Then nobody would be forced to do anything they don't want to do," he said.
Mandel, 44, a former aide to Jonathan Saidel, Butkovitz's predecessor, spoke after announcing his candidacy in front of Germantown High School, one of three dozen city schools targeted for closure because of the School District's budget crisis.
Butkovitz announced his candidacy last week in a function room at the Sheraton Hotel, filled with dozens of elected officials, Democratic ward leaders, and labor leaders. Pat Gillespie, business manager for the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council, acted as MC, with introductory remarks from State Sen. Michael Stack, City Council President Darrell Clarke, and John Dougherty, business manager of the electrical workers union.
Mandel had 15 supporters - one identifying himself as a Democratic committeeman - standing in the cold outside Germantown High, holding light blue placards describing Mandel as a "budget bulldog." His mother, Sharyn Dershowitz, handled the introduction.
Contact Bob Warner at 215-854-5885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.