The schools need consistent funding. Right now the City of Philadelphia has what amounts to an optional property tax payment system. If you don't pay, nothing happens. Property tax collection is almost completely broken.
The city is owed $472 million in overdue property taxes that range from recent debts to decades-old debt on valuable, sought after parcels. Check out Patrick Kerksta's prize-winning coverage of it with Plan Philly:
Politicians have claimed that it's not worth it to go after selling these properties because no one will buy them. That was debunked as a myth here:
Now the Philly School District is stating it must have a property tax increase or else, and this amount requested, $90 million, aligns perfectly already with the Mayor's request for an increase tied to the much needed actual value initiative reform, a reform that pols promised would be revenue-neutral:
Just say no to new property tax hikes, use a revenue-neutral AVI, and collect this debt first.
Why have the politicos failed to notice that instead of increasing property taxes, you can collect what is owed first? Nutter claims he's greatly improved collections, but the May 2012 property tax collection sheriff sale for the city only has 150 new properties on it:
At that rate, it would take about 50 years for the city to catch up.
Other counties collect property taxes in about one to two years. That is the PA average. And that's about what it is in the rest of the nation in most cases, including those involving bankruptcies.
Is it right to ask the rest of the state pay for their schools and ours in Philly, even when the rest of the state's owners face strict property tax collection in a few years if they fall behind?
Let's collect overdue property taxes first here in Philly. It is right. It is fair. It is time. And if the Philly Democrats can't do this work then the state legislature and Gov. Corbett must step in and take over, much like it had to with the PPA to get it functioning properly.
Property tax debt is a lien against a valuable asset -- property. When that property is sold, the debt is paid. The city has the right to force properties to sheriff sale.
It is a simple matter to compare previous sales values of shells or unrenovated properties on that block with the tax debt of a property, and compel a sale where that debt is covered by the going price of similar parcels.
Philly's real estate market is doing well in the recession, much better than in other areas of the nation. This property is valuable, from lots, to shells, to old factories, and more. People want to buy and renovate them, paying off the debt in full.
Philly is trying hard to resist sheriff sale of tax delinquent properties, but the time for that has passed. We must band together and all pay our fair share, and that includes the people who got used to never paying.
No more excuses for those who refuse to shoulder their fair burden. No more mollycoddling those who thumb their nose at the system.
Tell our elected officials NO new property taxes until you collect the property taxes owed FIRST.