City Councilman Darrell Clarke introduced legislation this morning that would change the city's 10-year property tax abatement on new residential, commercial and industrial housing and offer a rebate on the city's real estate transfer tax for people who buy existing homes.  Clarke proposes to keep the property tax abatement at 10 years but reduce the amount from 100 percent of the tax to 80 percent.  He also wants buyers of existing homes to get a rebate -- a set dollar amount still to be determined -- on the city's share of the real estate transfer tax.  That rebate would only be available during a 12-month period.  Home buyers would receive the money across five years.

Clarke said his proposals are designed to bring more money into the city as it experiences serious budget trouble.  He considered other ideas for changing the property tax abatement, including reducing the number of years available or having it decrease several times over the 10-year period.  He decided to use the 80 percent figure to give home-buyers a consistent number to count on.  "I think at this point it could probably withstand some level of tweaking," Clarke said. "While we want to alter it, we don't want to see it go away."

Clarke said he had brief discussions with Nutter's staff about the real estate property tax rebate but not about the proposed change to the 10-year tax abatement. "I anticipate I will be getting a phone call," he joked to reporters.