Taking up the mantle of reform, City Council yesterday passed legislation that would abolish the troubled Board of Revision of Taxes next fall, provided voters give their approval in May.
The legislation will create an assessment body under the mayor's supervision and an independent assessment-appeals board - effective Sept. 30.
"We will finally have a uniform, fair and transparent tax process," said Councilman Bill Green, lead sponsor of the legislation.
The vote was 15-2, with Council members Jannie Blackwell and Curtis Jones Jr. the only dissenting voices.
The reform effort comes after a series of stories in the Inquirer that detailed a culture of patronage, inaccurate assessments and mismanagement at the agency.
Moves to reform the BRT already have begun. The Nutter administration has taken over the assessment functions of the agency, under an agreement with the BRT board.
But not all the reforms have gone down well with Council. Some members were angered earlier this week by Mayor Nutter's announcement that 76 patronage workers for the BRT, who are paid through the school district so that they can be politically active, must shift to civil service.
Blackwell yesterday criticized the plans for those workers.
"This bill does not ensure job protection for those least able to protect themselves. I will never support legislation that victimizes people who did not cause a problem but did a good job trying to protect our city," Blackwell said.
Also in Council yesterday:
* Legislation passed that would give victims of car theft 24 hours to recover their vehicle before it is towed. Another approved bill lowers the maximum towing fee to $105, compared with $150.
* Council gave final approval to plans to create a pedestrian park on Cherry Street between Broad and 15th streets, next to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Dubbed Academy Plaza, the $3 million project would include gardens, sculpture and a restaurant. The park would be next to the expanded Pennsylvania Convention Center.
* A tax-amnesty program was granted final approval. The 45-day program would allow people who owe city and school-district back-taxes as of June 30, 2009, to make one payment, free of penalties and with half the interest. It is expected to start in May.
* Councilwoman Marion Tasco defended Council's plans to grant a communications contract to Bill Miller of Ross Associates. The contract, capped at $100,000, is for "strategic communications" during next year's budget process. Tasco praised Miller's work for Council in the past and called it a worthwhile expenditure, despite the city's budget woes.