A pending $500 annual garbage fee for small businesses in Philadelphia that have long enjoyed free city service has been thrown out and replaced with a proposed $150 trash charge on all locations except single-family homes and condominiums.
Councilman Frank DiCicco yesterday announced a compromise with the Nutter administration on the fee, which fueled outrage in the small-business community when notices went out in June. The city has not charged anyone yet. The bill DiCicco introduced yesterday will be scheduled for a hearing.
Instead of a $500 fee that would affect about 15,000 storefront businesses, a $150 charge would be levied on 47,000 commercial properties that do not have a private trash-hauler, including multifamily apartments.
The bill would fill the same $7 million hole in the Streets Department budget. Larger rental developments and other sites that already pay for private trash hauling would be excluded.
"I'd like it to be zero, but I think this spreads the pain," DiCicco said. "We all have to share some of the pain."
City Council approved the $500 fee in May as part of the budget accord with Mayor Nutter, based on administration figures that merchants put out 100 pounds of trash each week compared with 40 pounds for the average household.
But Council began having second thoughts when businesses began to complain that the fee was too heavy a burden in a recession and that it was applied unevenly. DiCicco encouraged the administration to negotiate by introducing a bill to eliminate the fee, a bill that had wide Council support.
DiCicco said there was still discussion to be had on whether to charge duplexes, particularly properties in which the owner occupies one of the units.
Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson would not comment on those discussions, but said the administration was "happy to work together" with Council.
In other business yesterday, Councilman Darrell L. Clarke proposed an ordinance authorizing the city to sell commercial properties at 50 percent of market value as a way to create jobs and development.
Clarke has been frustrated with the city's efforts in disposing of properties. His bill would sell a property at half of the appraised value, then hold a lien on the property for the other half. That lien would be forgiven if the property owner created a certain number of jobs.
Council also unanimously:
Made permanent Councilman William K. Greenlee's year-old law that entitles victims of domestic or sexual violence to unpaid leave from work to attend to court and personal matters. The law had a one-year sunset clause to determine its impact. Greenlee said no businesses had complained about the law.
Introduced administration bills to establish nonprofit corporations to run two city golf courses, Walnut Lane and Juniata. The city's four other courses have been run by Billy Casper Golf L.L.C. under a contract since the beginning of 2008. Walnut Lane and Juniata were cut out of the contract because they have historically been a drag on profitability for the concessionaires.
Approved Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr.'s bill to remove three banks from the list of those eligible to hold city deposits. BNY Mellon, which held about $2 million in city deposits, and Sovereign Bank and Advance Bank, neither of which had any city deposits, were banned for their failure to submit goals for lending in low-income communities.
Banned the placement of newspaper vending boxes near the new National Museum for Jewish American History. The legislation was requested by the museum for security purposes.
Amended the sidewalk code to grandfather certain vendors in the Oregon Avenue Business District. The action was a compromise with Councilmen James F. Kenney and DiCicco and Council President Anna C. Verna to protect long-standing businesses in the area.