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Philadelphia City Council Approves 3.85-Percent Property Tax Hike; Mayor Vetoes DROP

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Philadelphia City Council was rocketing toward its summer break today by dealing with a flurry of legislation, including passage of a new city budget.

There were no theatrics, secret meetings, or behind-the-scenes dealmaking in evidence this time around.  All three were certainly evident last week amid critical meetings during which Council opted for a 3.85-percent  temporary property tax hike as the best of the bad options with which they had to deal.

City Council last week passed, by a 14-3 vote, a bill modifying the widely criticized "DROP" city pension program, but the mayor -- as he had promised -- vetoed that measure today (see related stories).  Twelve City Council votes would be necessary to override the mayor's veto of DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan).

Proceeds from that property tax bump -- combined with a meter rate increase for street parking and some city surplus funds -- will give the school district an extra $53 million.

City Council also approved an overall city budget, by a unanimous 17-0 vote, although the property tax increase passed by a lesser margin of 11-6, with councilmembers Blackwell, DiCicco, Krajewski, O'Neill, Rizzo, and Verna voting "no."

Councilmember Blackwell, for example, says this 3.85-percent increase on top of a 9.9-percent property tax hike last year (see related story) is just too much of a burden on taxpayers.

Critics of the city funding help for the school district say the school district has not proved its need -- that it could have made cuts elsewhere to restore the basic essentials, which include funding yellow bus transportation, reducing classroom size, restoring accelerated school programs for students at risk for dropping out, as well as early education funding (see related story).

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060

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