PHILADELPHIA's seniors will face very hard times with the city's recalculation of property taxes on the horizon.

Owners of homes in new developments get a 10-year tax abatement, but these increased property values translate immediately into higher taxes for neighbors. While I welcome development, the 24 percent of our city's poor must also be part of our plans for economic growth. And the property-tax revaluation will disproportionately affect low-income seniors, many of whom live in gentrifying neighborhoods.

As the Democratic nominee for City Council in the 4th District (Overbrook, Wynnefield, Parkside, Allegheny West, Roxborough, Manayunk and East Falls), I'm committed to making sure these tax hikes do not hurt our older citizens.

That's why I recently testified in support of State House Bill 93. This bill, sponsored by State Rep. Rosita C. Youngblood (and co-sponsored by Philadelphia Reps. Cruz, Blackwell and Cohen), mandates that the city grant property- tax forgiveness or rebates to its low-income seniors as well as for the disabled and the infirm. The city is authorized but not required to provide property-tax relief to low-income senior homeowners. (The disabled and the infirm are not now included.)

In the 4th District, seniors represent 40 percent of residents, most of whom are long-time homeowners. HB 93 will go a long way to providing needed tax relief for them.

City Council must pass legislation to implement the much-needed provisions of HB 93. I urge Council to act quickly to make this happen as soon as they return from summer recess. If they don't pass the necessary ordinance, I will make it my first priority when I take office in January.

After they've contributed years of service and taxes to our city, this is the least we can do for seniors who choose to remain in their homes during their waning years.

Curtis Jones Jr.

Democratic Nominee

for City Council, 4th District