Real estate tax hike for Phila.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's going to cost more to live in Philadelphia, especially if you're a property owner. City Council raised real estate taxes Thursday night for the second year in a row. This time, the increase is by nearly 4%, or 3.5 mils.

This will raise $37 million for the cash-strapped school district. It's a noble cause, taxpayers say, but another brutal assault on their tight finances. Estimates are, it would increase a $2,000 tax bill by more than $75.

"I can't afford it," said Linda Graham of West Oak Lane.

The council again rejected Mayor Nutter's call for taxes on sugary soft drinks. The soda lobby beat this back for the second year in a row by a narrow margin.

The council did pass a measure mandating businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days based on the length of service. The sick day leave, combined with higher real estate taxes, drew predictable twin blasts from the Chamber of Commerce.

"With such high unemployment rates, with still not a strong regional and national economy, now is not the time to mandate an employee benefit. Now is not the time to raise taxes," said Rob Wunderling of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

Veteran Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell voted thumbs down on the real estate tax and the sick leave plan.

"People cannot afford an increase in taxes. Taxes went up 9.9% last year. They're talking about another 3 1/2% percent this year. Salaries have not gone up, we're having a problem in this country right now," Blackwell told Action News.

Councilman Bill Green was hard-line against the soda tax, but he eventually went for the property taxes.

"I didn't want to do it. But the alternatives I thought were all worse," said Green.

Mayor Nutter has lost another round with City Council on the issue of raising revenues. But sources say he will veto the controversial sick leave bill, and he will have enough votes to prevent an override by City Council.

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