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Nutter Admin: City Can't Afford Millage Shift For Schools

Mayor Nutter's Chief of Staff Clay Armbrister today sent a letter to City Council members, urging them against shifting exisiting property tax revenues to the School District.

"A millage shift would open a painfully large gap in the City's budget, requiring spending reduction that would create noticeable service impacts throughout city governement," says the letter.

Property taxes in the city are split between the city and the school district, with 45 percent of the revenue coming to the city and 55 to the district. As the schools face a $629 million funding shortfall for the budget year starting July 1, one option floated by advocates has been to shift that balance -- through a change in the split of the millage rate -- so the schools get more revenue.

But Armbrister strongly argues against that course, saying that if the city uses the property tax coffers to give the schools the $75 million to $110 million requested, then the city would have to make painful cuts like, laying off police officers, deactivating fire companies and reducing beds in shelters.

What the letter doesn't say is how the Nutter administration would like to provide funding for the schools.  But given the message, it appears that they're saying a tax increase is the only option. So far Council has shown little appetite for that idea.