Owe the city money? He's tapped to track you down

Knudsen
Knudsen
Posted: April 05, 2013

EVEN AS Mayor Nutter named a seasoned crisis manager on Wednesday as the city's first chief revenue collections officer - a new position created to "collect every dime" owed to the city - some City Council members remained skeptical about Nutter's tax-collections strategy.

Thomas Knudsen formerly served as chief recovery officer at the Philadelphia School District and has been lauded for fixing the Philadelphia Gas Works' money troubles. He is tasked with dismantling a culture of nonpayment, identifying negative collection trends and pumping up collections in all city departments.

"Whether it's an individual or those on the business side, those who have the ability to pay and who are just dodging the system, they're going to feel a very, very different kind of city of Philadelphia going forward," Nutter said.

The Nutter administration has come under fire in recent weeks for its poor tax-collection efforts. A recent Plan Philly/ Inquirer investigation spotlighted the issue, and elected officials have raised concerns about the millions of dollars owed to the city.

The Actual Value Initiative, the city's soon-to-be new property-tax system, has thrust tax delinquency into the forefront of budget debates and Council hearings after thousands of homeowners learned that tax bills will soar.

"Even with a new chief collections officer, it still feels disjointed in terms of what we're trying to do, what we need to do," said Councilwoman Cindy Bass. "I'm not really confident that we're headed in the right direction to get this done. As we're talking about AVI, we get to meetings and the first thing people always want to know is, 'Why aren't you collecting the money that's outstanding?' "

Several Council members, however, supported Nutter's choice for the job. Knudsen, whose salary will be $160,000, will assume his new position this month.

Nutter has tried a number of approaches to address tax delinquency, including a recent plan to invest $40 million in new employees and a new database to bring in $260 million from tax delinquents within five years.

Nutter also announced that Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson will become managing director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corp. Streets Department Commissioner Clarena Tolson will replace him.

-Staff writer Sean Collins Walsh

contributed to this report.


On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom

Blog: PhillyClout.com

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