I am the only candidate who opposes an immediate full-value reassessment of all real estate in the city. Such a reassessment would cause undue hardship to longtime residents of a community, particularly seniors on fixed incomes. Philadelphia should not impose a tax system that unfairly burdens a segment of people who stand as the pillars of neighborhoods. Rather, I will work to create solutions for homeowners and a fair system of property taxation that rewards longtime homeowners.
The first and most obvious step for Philadelphia government is actually to listen to Philadelphians. In the face of great fear and anxiety last year over full-value reassessment, my colleagues and I held public hearings. We heard residents talk about how their dreams of continued homeownership and financial security were threatened by skyrocketing property taxes. We acted on these concerns and introduced a series of bills that will provide protection for homeowners in Philadelphia from exorbitant property-tax increases. . . . As mayor, I will continue to work with City Council and the legislature in Harrisburg to ensure that we have the tools necessary to offer Philadelphians security and protection from skyrocketing property taxes.
As mayor, I will implement fair and equitable reassessment, to make sure that those who have benefited from recent increases in property values pay their fair share. When property values are reassessed, I will support efforts to make sure that homeowners are not unduly harmed by providing homestead exemptions or phase-ins of the new values to reduce the year-on-year increase in taxes. I will work to increase the income-eligibility limit for the city's tax freeze program for seniors, so that even more seniors can stay in their homes at the current tax rate, even if their property values increase.
I will work with City Council to maintain revenue neutrality during the move from partial to full assessment, so that tax bills do not triple. Next, I will push for caps in assessment increases and deferments of owed tax revenue until sale. I also will lobby Harrisburg for greater exemptions for longtime residents living on fixed incomes. I'll expand the Basic Systems Repair Program and improve down-payment assistance programs so that people can buy homes, rather than rent them. I'll dramatically expand the funding for affordable housing annual allocation.
I will enact a homestead exemption that will exclude a portion of assessed value from taxation for all property owners. I will work to enact a cap and deferral plan that will protect property owners from unreasonably large and rapid tax increases. Under my plan, no property owner would ever face an increase in his property tax of more than 10 percent in a single year. Property owners who qualify on the basis of low and/or fixed incomes would have lower caps, including zero increases for very low-income owners who cannot afford any increase. In all cases, the amount of tax owed above the capped amount would be deferred until the sale of the property.