City Council today passed out of committee legislation to abolish the Board of Revision of Taxes, although last minute concerns over BRT patronage employees threatened to derail the bill.

Councilwoman Janie Blackwell said she wouldn't support the bill until she received assurances that the 80 patronage hires, who are on the School District payroll, would be protected.

"I can't support any BRT legislation if we don't protect employees," Blackwell said. "If you don't commit to that then I can't commit to you." Several other Council members echoed her concerns.

If approved by voters in May, the legislation would take effect in October 2010. The bill would abolish the troubled Board of Revision of Taxes, which now handles assessments and appeals, and replace it with two new city agencies. At that time, any BRT employees or those assigned to work there, would be transferred.

But between now and October, the city finance department will handle assessments, under an agreement reached with the BRT. City Finance Director Rob Dubow said that they will be reviewing staffing levels, and wouldn't commit to keeping all the current employees.

"We do plan to do a thorough analysis of staffing at the BRT and see if the staffing level is appropriate," Dubow said. "So I can't sit here today and say that at the end of the process there will be the same number of employees."

In the end, the measure passed out of committee with only Blackwell in opposition. It could receive final passage on Dec. 17.