Philadelphia City Council adds more property tax relief bills to the stack

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council is considering a number of competing bills intended to help offset the impact of new property assessments, and several more were introduced at Thursday’s session.

The new assessments, announced earlier this month, raise residential property taxes by an average of 31% citywide, which Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson said would have dire results.

“Senior citizens will have to decide between paying their property tax bills or paying for prescription medications,” he said.

Johnson introduced a package of bills that would double the homestead exemption and expand the reach of programs for seniors and low-income homeowners. They are more generous than proposals from other councilmembers and Mayor Jim Kenney.

The mayor says he is willing to negotiate.

“Council should understand that the more we put on the real estate tax side, the less we have to spend on other services,” the mayor said. “So that’ll be a balance, and we always work it, out and we’ll work this out.”

Meanwhile, Councilmember Cherelle Parker is looking for solutions to acute staff shortages across city departments.

“We have had a ‘black swan’ event,” she said. “It is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation.”

Parker proposes making it easier for retired city workers to return temporarily by allowing them to keep pension and health benefits, so they can fill in gaps while more permanent workers are hired.