Wonder what City Council has been up to since Election Day? It’s surprisingly difficult to find out. The 17 Council members meet every week of their five month session, often to consider important legislation that could affect every resident of the city. Here, your guide to what’s happening at City Council this week, what bills they’re discussing, why they matter and what we can do about them.
Who wants to talk about the soda tax? City Council does. As part of its ongoing budget hearings, Council will hear testimony on several bills, including Mayor Kenney’s controversial soda tax proposal. Although there are several items on the agenda, the two following bills are the ones that aren’t just boilerplate reauthorizations of longstanding bills. Please note that there will not be opportunity for public comment at this hearing. The next opportunity for public comment on the budget (and thus the soda tax) will be on May 18th.
Henon for Clarke
The bill that needs no introduction. For a primer, read all coverage on the soda tax:
Wage Tax and NPT Reductions
Henon for Clarke
In keeping with the approved Five-Year Plan (see page 24), City Council is proposing continued reductions to the wage and net profits taxes. The rates for Philadelphia residents would drop by 0.0098% (from 2.4102% to 2.4004%), while the rates for non-residents would drop by 0.0087% (from 3.4828% to 3.4741%). Assuming everything else stayed the same, the City would stand to lose around $13 million per year in tax revenue. Taxpayers, on the other hand, will see modest gains: For a taxpayer making $40,000 per year, this tax reduction would amount to approximately $350 per year in tax savings. The goal is to spur job growth by creating a friendlier tax environment.
General City Council Hearings
This will be a general city council hearing on a wide variety of bills. Most of them have to do with rezoning specific parcels of land (why hello, there, councilmanic prerogative!). However, there is one bill of note that will be heard, sponsored by Councilman Domb.
Issuance of L&I Licenses to Tax-Delinquents
This might not sound like the most exciting bill in the world, but it’s plenty important. As part of Alan Domb’s crusade to collect delinquent taxes, he’s proposed this bill. Here’s the rundown. As it stands, contractors and individuals aren’t allowed to get permits and licenses from L&I if they haven’t paid all of their city taxes (or aren’t at least in a payment plan). But right now, L&I and Revenue have a hard time communicating, so many cases are slipping through the cracks. This bill would require anyone who wants a license from L&I to get a “Tax Compliance Certificate” from Revenue before L&I could issue the license. There’s no estimate on how much additional revenue this would bring in. Aside from how this would be specifically administered, the Building Industry Association has voiced concerns about creating even more hoops for builders to jump through before they can begin their work.