Council: Don't blame us for higher tax rate

Posted: February 22, 2013

IF CITY COUNCIL provides relief to homeowners who could be hit hard under a new property-tax system based on market values, its members don't want to be dubbed the "bad guys" for increasing the tax rate.

That's why some members are peeved that the Nutter administration has said the property-tax rate could be as low as 1.25 percent under the Actual Value Initiative, despite the existence of a homestead exemption that would require the rate to be higher.

"You come up with this 1.25 rate, and anything that's done to protect residents, that rate goes up . . . it will appear that Council is increasing the rate from 1.25 upwards," said Council President Darrell Clarke, who questioned the administration at a committee hearing Wednesday. "All of a sudden Council is the bad guy, and I really take issue with that."

The homestead exemption would knock $30,000 from a homeowner's property assessment, but that move could force Council to increase the rate to as high as 1.4 percent to collect $1.2 billion in property taxes, the same as last year. Every $10 million in relief will cause the tax rate to inch up by .01 percentage point.

City Finance Director Rob Dubow said that he anticipates that Nutter's budget will propose relief measures and subsequently a higher tax rate but that providing information without relief was easier for people to understand. Assessment notices did not include a tax rate, which Council must set by June 30.


On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom

Blog: PhillyClout.com

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