STATE REP. Brendan Boyle is trying to throw a wrench in the city's plans to bring in extra dollars for schools as part of a shift to a property-tax system based on market values.
Boyle, a Democrat who represents parts of Northeast Philadelphia, has introduced a bill in Harrisburg that would require that the proposed changes to the property-tax system — known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI) — be revenue-neutral.
Mayor Nutter's planned shift to AVI would lock in two tax hikes that were billed as temporary and collect an additional $90 million in property taxes for the school district.
The mayor says that this is not a tax hike, but simply the city capturing the increase in property values. Critics disagree.
"If you're going to go down this path, this would ensure that it must be revenue-neutral," Boyle said. "It would ensure that this reassessment isn't just a backdoor tax increase."
Boyle said that ideally he'd like to see the city roll back the temporary tax hikes, but added that at the very least he'd want the revenues for the coming fiscal year to match this year's.
Finance Director Rob Dubow declined to comment on the legislation, saying that he had not seen the bill.
Councilman Mark Squilla has introduced a bill at the local level that would delay the shift to AVI for a year.
Council members continue to debate their next move. They have been briefed by the Nutter administration in recent days on how AVI would affect neighborhoods and have seen some scenarios on how individual tax bills would be affected.
Many Council members would like AVI to be debated separately from the issue of additional money for the schools.
Council President Darrell Clarke said Council and the administration were working together on how to best protect homeowners in neighborhoods that have seen massive increases in property values.
"Council and the administration are looking at several possible ideas about minimizing any significant increases that may happen," Clarke said. "What we're trying to do is [if] there are individuals who experience significant increases, we want to be in a position to provide assistance." n
Contact Catherine Lucey at 215-854-4172, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @phillyclout on Twitter. Read her blog "PhillyClout" at phillyclout.com.