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Council Hungry For Alternatives to Mayor's Proposed Property Tax Hike

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Mayor Nutter's plan to hike property taxes 9% for more school funding continues to draw skepticism from City Council members. And the lawmakers made clear at a hearing Thursday that they are still hoping for better options.

In the hotseat was the Mayor's Finance Director, Rob Dubow, who said the only way to get the School District the extra $105-million is to raise the property tax 9.3%:

"In terms of revenues that go to the District, property tax is the only one that is large enough not to require an enormous increase to generate that kind of revenue."

Councilman Bill Greenlee suggested raising the Use-and-Occupancy tax, or UNO, but Dubow told him that won't work:

(Dubow): "(To get) $105 million out of the UNO (tax), you'd need an 80-percent increase."

(Greenlee): "How much?"

(Dubow): "80 percent."

(Greenlee): "80 percent?"

(Dubow): "Yeah. So we didn't think that was a reasonable option."

But Council members like David Oh want other options:

"I'm really not in favor of increasing the property tax. And I would like to see what were the other alternatives? What happened to alternative sources of revenues?"

Dubow told Oh that other ideas -- like revenues from taxi medallions -- don't work because they're not large enough, and are one-time revenues. A property tax hike, he said, is large enough and will raise that amount every year:

(Dubow): "That increase is a recurring stable source that the School District can count on for years and years going forward. And that's what they need."

(Oh): "I think it hurts a lot of people. I want to help the schools, but not at the price of hurting people in the neighborhoods and communities."

Council members then find themselves between this rock and a hard place -- choosing between homeowners and schoolkids -- and they must pass a budget before the end of June.

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