State Sen. Mike Stack last week held a news conference outside Abraham Lincoln High School to introduce a five-bill package designed to raise money to close the School District of Philadelphia’s budget deficit.
The package — Senate Bill 970 to Senate Bill 974 — would give the city the power to go after $249 million in unpaid property taxes, $91.5 million in delinquent business income and receipt taxes and $47 million in late wage taxes.
If the legislation is approved, Philadelphia and all Pennsylvania municipalities would be able to place a lien on any piece of property for the unpaid taxes. Those governments would also be able to add the cost of collections to any lien attached to a delinquent property or business.
The bills are being introduced at a time when the school district is trying to close a $300 million deficit.
“It is wrong that delinquent property and business owners are playing a big part in the starvation of Philadelphia school students and teachers,” Stack said. “It’s equally wrong that the city lacks the legal muscle to take action against the negligent people who are robbing our students of a quality education.”
Also, Philadelphia would be able to garnish the wages of delinquent property and business owners at the same 10-pecent rate other municipalities now charge.
“This legislation would let those who don’t pay their taxes know that the City of Brotherly Love has the necessary and appropriate powers to instill some loving punishment and collect what is owed,” Stack said.
Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, attended the news conference.
“This year’s proposed school budget eliminates vital services, programs and extracurricular activities that are needed for a quality education,” he said. “We’re glad to see Sen. Stack and other elected officials proposing sustainable education funding that will end the current practice of taking programs away from our children.” ••