City Councilman Bill Greenlee took on the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors today for a mailer they sent out this week, accusing Mayor Nutter and City Council of planning a surprise 19 percent increase in property taxes if the General Assembly does not approve key measures of the city's budget, including a 1-cent increase in the local sales tax.
Greenlee called the mailer "blatantly unfair, misleading and just flat-out wrong."
"I call on the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors to just set the record straight and let their membership and the greater community know the real facts regarding City Council and property taxes," Greenlee said. "And finally I make on friendly request, the next time you do something like this, how about knowing what the heck you're talking about?"
City Finance Director Rob Dubow, who received one of the mailers as his home, called it "inaccurate." Mayor Nutter in March proposed a two-year property tax increase, by 19 percent on July 1 and then 14.5 percent next July. Council balked at that and struck a deal with Nutter for a one-cent increase in the sales tax for five years, along changes in how the city pays into its pension fund. With Council due to wrap up for a three-month recess next month, the city could not push through a new property tax increase now if it wanted to. Dubow added that there have been no discussions on raising property taxes in the next city budget.
GPAR president Albert Perry defended the mailer this week, brushing aside questions about its accuracy by saying that it was the start of a campaign to prevent the city from raising property taxes. Perry said the campaign was motivated by his group's belief that city property owners can't afford to pay more taxes. Perry added that the impact of a potential property tax increase on the local real estate business played no role in deciding to send the mailer.
The mailer urges property owners to contact their Council members. An online version, at donttaxmyhome.com, personalizes an e-mail to be sent to a property owner's district Council person. That e-mail calls on the city to cut "non-vital services." Perry declined this week to say what services his group considers non-vital.