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City Council Begins Hearings On Mayor Nutter's Budget, Today

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Today brings the start of two months of Philadelphia City Council hearings on Mayor Nutter's new budget, and the process could get heated over Nutter's plan to overhaul property assessments, while bringing in $90-million extra to the Philadelphia School District.

"AVI is going to be a major issue," says City Councilman Bill Greenlee, referring to the Actual Value Initiative, the new property assessment system that the mayor wants put in place in the coming year.

Nutter has also set revenue targets at $90-million more than current levels, to benefit the school district.

City Councilman Jim Kenney says, "AVI is the Sword of Damocles hanging over everything."

Councilman Curtis Jones, who is among those who oppose linking the school district funding to AVI, says "They are two distinct and separate issues. And, to combine them would be somewhat problematic."

AVI is billed as a more fair assessment system, and 10th district Councilman Brian O'Neill says that's why the debate over it needs to be separate from the school funding issue. "You can't try to sell fairness in an unfair way."

Others say linking the $90-million to AVI constitutes a back door tax increase. That's a concern for Greenlee, who says, "The perception is going to be that a lot of people are getting a tax increase."

Nutter fends off reporters' questions about that claim.

"Stop asking me that question, because I'm not going to engage in an esoteric, theoretical debate."

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