City Council passes budget on time
It’s official: City Council passed its budget on time.
Council members approved the operating budget yesterday, 14-2, and the capital budget was approved by a 15-1 vote.
Council also approved several controversial bills before breaking for summer recess. The legislative body will reconvene in September.
Last week, Council approved a 1.34-percent property tax rate under the Actual Value Initiative. AVI, for short, is the new tax system that is based on true market value rather than a predefined percentage. Council also approved the Homestead Exemption, which reduces an eligible home’s taxable assessed value by $30,000.
Of the bills approved, one offers long-time homeowners in gentrified neighborhoods tax breaks. The breaks require state approval. It awaits Senate approval as it already passed the House.
Another bill was approved that offers low-income residents, who will see a large tax increase after the Actual Value Initiative takes affect, to defer the extra payment.
Council President Darrell Clarke asked council members to offer assistance as AVI is fully implemented.
The business tax, known as the Use and Occupancy tax, was not voted on.
Clarke said if Council passed the so-called U & O bill, it would have jeopardized the cigarette tax in Harrisburg.
“Reality is that the game plan was laid out this year by the mayor,” he said. “At the end of the day, we will participate in whatever dialogue continues to happen in Harrisburg.”
Mayor Michael Nutter, who signed off on the budget, said in regard to the schools, “Obviously we need a couple pieces of legislation passed in Harrisburg.”
The $2-a pack cigarette tax he proposed to help fill the school district budget gap, which was also approved in City Council, still requires state approval.
In regard to the ignored liquor-by-the-drink tax, the other large half of Nutter’s package to help raise money for the schools, he said it’s a give-and-take process.
“Obviously, you want to try and get as much as you can,” he said. “I don’t know kind of who was where in terms of a potential vote, not to characterize it as anything else other than it’s a complicated process.”
In regards to how Harrisburg will handle the smoking bill, Clarke said he continues “to be optimistic.”