City Council President Darrell Clarke said Monday that Council would cast separate votes on the mayor's property-tax proposal — one on the plan to tax homes using market-value assessments and another on whether to raise extra money for the school district.
Clarke made the announcement at a news conference with state Sen. Larry Farnese, who had been seeking to amend state enabling legislation the city needs to enact the property-tax plan. Farnese had wanted to require the city to cast separate votes, but said he would now drop that effort. Farnese was optimistic the legislation would soon move through the Senate.
Mayor Nutter has taken heat for his proposal to raise an additional $94 million for schools next school year as the city shifts to a property-tax system based on market values, known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI). Will the decision to cast separate votes make it harder for the mayor to get the money for schools, since casting a vote for the third property-tax hike in three years may be politically tough? A spokesman for Nutter said Council can handle the bills in whatever way it chooses and said he didn't see an issue with splitting the votes.
Council is set to hold a committee hearing Tuesday at which it could give preliminary approval to a budget. One scenario that has generated interest is a proposal from Clarke to approve AVI and to raise school funds through a combined property-tax hike and an increase in a business tax known as the use-and-occupancy tax. Clarke would like to put strings on money going to the schools, although the administration has said this could make it harder for the schools to borrow money.
Clarke declined to say if Council would reach a budget deal this week, saying: "Stay tuned."