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Mayor Nutter Delivers New Budget To City Council Today

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The great property tax controversy of 2013 will be front and center this morning as Mayor Nutter delivers his new budget to city council. And with angry union members in attendance, he's likely to hear more jeers than cheers.

Union members pack the lobby at City Hall before the budget address Thursday morning. (credit: Mike Dunn)

Mayor Nutter will deliver a budget that hinges in large part on the new and controversial property assessments. He is expected to talk about the need for three types of relief measures for some property owners: a homestead exemption, further relief for homeowners in gentrified neighborhoods, and buffers for owners of mixed used properties.

Nutter wants all of this while trying to keep the base tax rate as low as possible:

"That's the delicate balance," he said. "You want to have a low rate, but you also want some amount of relief. Our dual goals, if you will, are to have the lowest possible rate with a decent amount of tax relief measures."

But because the relief measures are yet to be locked in, the tax rate that Nutter proposes today -- expected to be in the area of 1.35 percent -- is likely to change after deliberations with council members:

"It will not be a particular surprise if the proposed rate in the budget, in the course of a two-and-a-half month-long process, very well could change," says Nutter.

With the city's economy finally showing modest recovery after the recession, the budget proposed by the mayor is expected to contain some improvements in city services. This is expected to include the return of some services that had been reduced or cut during the budget-slashing of recent years.

Without elaborating, the mayor said, "There's actually some positive news in a variety of places."

City workers angry over stalled contract talks are expected to pack City Council chambers as Nutter unveils his budget. Council President Darrell Clarke says security will be increased:

"We will have the appropriate staffing levels from both civil affairs and city council."

The delivery of the budget proposal launches a lengthy review by City Council that is not expected to conclude until May at the earliest.

Some council members have already proposed alternatives to the implementation of AVI. Councilman Mark Squilla wants the new property values phased in over four years. Councilman Bill Green proposes no relief measures to keep the overall tax rate as low as possible. Councilman Jim Kenney proposes a flat tax rate of 1.0%, with budget cuts to make up the resulting $200 million shortfall in revenue.

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