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Will A Mix Of New Money Save School District Budget?

City Council is in session right now and a flurry of proposed legislation is landing in an effort to close a budget gap for the Philadelphia School District.  Some new taxes seem more likely to fly, based on conversations with Council members and staffers from Mayor Nutter's administration, while others look dead on arrival.

Ultimately, it seems likely that some composite of new revenue sources will be pushed to fund the district.  The proposals are:

  1. A 10 percent property tax increase that would raise $95 million, proposed by Mayor Nutter.  Nutter's staff said he put this forward at the request of Council members while Council President Anna Verna said Nutter offered the idea at a meeting yesterday.

  2. A smaller property tax increase for one year, proposed by Councilman Darrell Clarke, that would raise $37 million for the district.  Verna said both property tax proposals are likely to fail.

  3. A 2 cent per ounce tax on sugary drinks, which would raise about $60 million from Oct. 1 to June 30, 2012 if implemented by October.  This proposal, similar to a failed Nutter effort last year, will face fierce lobbying from beverage makers and distributors.  Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald called this the preference for the administration, rather than a property tax increase.

  4. An increase in parking meter rates that will bring in $6 million.  Nutter's staff says this can be approved by regulation, with no need for legislation.

Some Council members will also push Nutter to spend some or all of the $50 million surplus in the current budget.  And there is some hope that the state will restore some education funding, especially if the city puts up a chunk of cash.