Northeast Times

City Council adopts $3.8 billion budget, cigarette tax

City Coun­cil mem­bers gave their fi­nal OK to a $3.8 bil­lion 2014 op­er­at­ing budget on Thursday be­fore re­cess­ing for the sum­mer.

With the new budget, homeown­ers will be able to fig­ure out how much they will be chip­ping in­to that big city kitty. It’s just some arith­met­ic — a sub­trac­tion fol­lowed by a mul­ti­plic­a­tion.

Res­id­ents re­ceived new prop­erty as­sess­ments earli­er this year. A house­hold­er who lives in his or her home, and ap­plied for and was gran­ted a homestead ex­emp­tion, can de­duct $30,000 from that as­sess­ment. Then that num­ber is mul­ti­plied by the tax rate of 3.14 per­cent. That rate equals $1,340 for every $100,000 of as­sessed value.

City Coun­cil mem­bers have pre­dicted most North­east Phil­adelphia homeown­ers will see their 2014 taxes dip a bit, stay the same as they were this year or go up only slightly.

The new prop­erty val­ues and a much lower tax rate were products of the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive — the first city­wide mar­ket-value as­sess­ment.

Coun­cil Pres­id­ent Dar­rell L. Clarke de­scribed the budget as a col­lab­or­a­tion between of­fi­cials of May­or Mi­chael Nut­ter’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, Coun­cil mem­bers and staff.

Some City Coun­cil mem­bers, in­clud­ing Clarke, are sat­is­fied with the new mar­ket value as­sess­ment, but say there are still ques­tions about the ac­cur­acy of some as­sess­ments.

ldquo;I am pleased the ad­min­is­tra­tion and Coun­cil ar­rived at agree­ment over the Ac­tu­al Value Ini­ti­at­ive, which brings over­due fair­ness to thou­sands of Phil­adelphia homeown­ers whose prop­erty val­ues were over­assessed,” Clarke said in a news re­lease.

“However, many of us on Coun­cil re­main con­cerned about the ac­cur­acy of the as­sess­ment pro­cess. We hope our le­gis­la­tion that would re­fine stand­ards and in­crease trans­par­ency at the Of­fice of Prop­erty As­sess­ment will be signed by the may­or and fully im­ple­men­ted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

On Thursday, Coun­cil also OK’d bills that will al­low in­come-eli­gible res­id­ents whose tax pay­ments rise be­cause of AVI to de­fer their tax pay­ments, and of­fer some tax re­lief to long-time own­er oc­cu­pants.

Coun­cil also ap­proved a $2-a-pack ci­gar­ette tax, but the state Le­gis­lature must ap­prove the tax be­fore it takes ef­fect. The ex­tra rev­en­ue is in­ten­ded to help res­cue the Phil­adelphia School Dis­trict, which is fa­cing a $304 mil­lion short­fall in its budget for next school year.

Coun­cil already had ap­proved a set of meas­ures that would provide more than $1 bil­lion to the School Dis­trict of Phil­adelphia. The city budget in­cludes ap­prox­im­ately $74.5 mil­lion in new rev­en­ue for city schools, more than the $60 mil­lion the dis­trict re­ques­ted. The dis­trict is also seek­ing $120 mil­lion in ex­tra fund­ing from Har­ris­burg and more than $100 mil­lion in give­backs from the Phil­adelphia Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers.

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com 

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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