New office proposed to generate revenues

Council prez pushes plan

Posted: April 05, 2013

A day after Mayor Nutter named a lauded crisis manager to the new post as chief revenue collections officer, City Council President Darrell Clarke proposed Thursday to create an Office of Chief Revenue Generator.


Clarke said he has been in discussions with the Nutter administration for the last two years on new ways to generate money other than through tax hikes, including a proposal for municipal advertising, which has been at a standstill.

"There are a number of ways to generate revenue other than traditional sources as it relates to taxing individuals. We need to be creative. It's not rocket science," Clarke said, adding that it could help to lower the rate on property taxes and bolster the underfunded pension fund. "What I'd like to see is someone responsible for implementing these various proposals."

Revenue generation and tax delinquency have been hot topics in light of the city's move to a new property-tax system, the Actual Value Initiative. Nutter on Wednesday appointed former Philadelphia Gas Works chief executive Thomas Knudsen to direct the city's efforts to increase tax collections.

Nutter agreed that elected officials should be looking for innovative ways to raise revenue, but noted he did not know the specifics of Clarke's bill.

"I'm a firm believer that whatever we're doing today, we can figure out a better way to do it tomorrow," Nutter said, adding that he supports Clarke's municipal-advertising proposal and vacant-land sales. "We should be trying to figure out more ways to generate more money for the city government generally without going into all of the taxpayers' pocketbooks and at the same time collecting every nickel and dime and quarter of revenue, taxes, fees, fines that is owed to us."

In other news:

* Clarke introduced a bill to establish an independent five-member body to regulate charges for water and sewer services. The water commissioner currently proposes and sets the water rate. Last November, voters approved an amendment to the Home Rule Charter to change that.

* Nutter vetoed a bill that would require certain Philadelphia employers to give workers paid sick leave. In his veto notice, Nutter said the bill would harm the city's ability to attract new business. The bill's sponsor, Councilman Bill Greenlee, did not seek to override the veto. The bill passed three weeks ago, 11-6. Greenlee plans to spend the next week lobbying for the 12th vote needed to override the veto.

* Councilman Mark Squilla introduced a bill that would phase in the city's new property reassessments over four years. He had previously introduced a measure to phase in the tax rate, but decided to introduce a new bill after learning that it would likely be challenged.

Nutter, who had not seen the new bill, questioned the legality of it.

On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom


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