Money on fire



Yeah, nuh uh.

Today is one of those days where I need to climb over the Inquirer‘s paywall for you.   This concerns a future massive tax hike coming down the road that is gonna hit somebody.  And that somebody is likely to be you.

First, the high points:

  • City Council and the mayor think next year’s SDP deficit is $103MM, and likely to be $1 billion dollars over five years–and that they need to cover that.   By “they”, we’re talking about the City finding the money.
  • Council President Darrell Clarke nor Mayor Kenney will say where they’re going to get the money.
  • The SRC has already opted to disband—so the City is going to run the school district again no matter what.  It is a responsibility it hasn’t done since 2000 when the School District of Philadelphia slid into bankruptcy.

The Kenney Administration has already been putting out feelers on (yet another) property tax hike–the most obvious go-to, but it and Council are both being dodgy whether it will commit to that, or for how much.

I’ve lived in Philadelphia long enough to know exactly how property tax hikes go down:

If any of the previous (five!) property tax hikes that occurred under former mayor Michael Nutter are any clue, a property tax hike would likely be proposed right at the end of the spring.  Then, it will mysteriously slip into the final budget plans right before City Council goes on summer recess.   Some department head for the mayor will finally answer a question from a City Council member during the annual budget hearings and only then do we get to learn what pain we have in store for ourselves.

Pennsylvanians statewide did vote in a referendum last year to allow municipalities to sever the linkage between commercial and residential property tax rates; mostly by allowing residential properties to take a steep discount.   Whether City Council’s intent is to take advantage of this is also unknown.

As far as the soda and cigarette taxes—they aren’t doing shit for the gaping SDP deficit, a budget hole which climbs at an asymptotic rate.

Another depressing point: neither City Council nor the mayor are really all that concerned about waste in the SDP budget; so don’t expect that deficit estimate to climb down.