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District likely to get no more than $40 million from Council

By Dale Mezzacappa on Jun 14, 2012 11:23 AM

Updated 8:30 p.m.

City Council is poised to approve a compromise that could raise as much as $40 million for the School District, far short of the $94 million it was seeking.

Council is putting off revising the property tax assessment system through the Actual Value Initiative, instead amending two bills that would raise the property tax by about $20 million and the Use and Occupancy tax by $20 million. 

However, there is still a chance that the Use and Occupancy tax won't pass at all next week when it comes up for a final vote. Beyond that, City Finance Director Rob Dubow warned that failure to pass AVI when the city will have updated property tax assessments by September will result in appeals. Those could cost more than the planned property tax increase will raise, he said, resulting in a net loss for the District and the city.

This year, property tax appeals to the State Tax Equalization Board cost the city and District more than $50 million, and that amount could double next year, Dubow said.

He added that the administration still hoped to influence Council before the final vote on the amendments next week.

Council members are concerned about tax rates, which depend on the overall aggregate valuation for the entire city. But that figure won't be ready in time for the June 30 deadline to pass a final budget. Without it, it is not possible to gauge the effects of AVI on individual property owners.

"We continue to hope that things will change by next week," Dubow said. "We're concerned that the number for the District keeps going down."

The District issued a brief statement: "This crucial issue is still under consideration by City Council as a whole. We are cautiously optimistic City Council will support our efforts to maintain basic educational services for Philadelphia's school children."

With so much less revenue from Council than it already has put in next year's budget, the District will have to try to borrow even more than the planned $218 million to make ends meet in fiscal 2013.

Councilwoman Maria Sanchez said that the District had come to City Council before seeking more money than it ultimately received and still managed to make ends meet.

"I agree, it's not enough, but this is not uncommon," she said.

But District leaders have said that this year is different, making impassioned pleas for the money. They said that without it, they would have to cut individual school budgets further. School Reform Commission Chairman Pedro Ramos said that not getting the funds would be "unthinkable" as the District seeks to close an unprecedented budget gap.

District Chief Academic Officer Penny Nixon said that she had prepared a budget that included the $94 million and didn't want to further cut into school budgets.

"I don't know what we'll do," she said.

Councilman Bill Green said he agreed it was a "dire situation," but warned the SRC "not to put all its eggs in the AVI basket. Unfortunately, that's what they did."

He said they should seek more money from Harrisburg, noting that Ramos and SRC member Feather Houstoun were appointed by Gov. Tom Corbett, whose unprecedented cuts to basic education funding are a major cause of the crisis.

"That's where they should focus their attention for additional funding," Green said, adding that "they haven't even asked."

Over the last several weeks Council support for the District has shifted.  Members were put off by the District's reorganization plan that would divide the District into "achievement networks" and concerned that they didn't have enough influence over how additional funds would be used.

The District had argued against putting any strings on the money, but advocates urged Council to require that any new money go toward restoring nurses, security guards, and other school-based personnel that had already been laid off.

Council also wanted the District to work out something with its blue-collar union, Local 1201 of 32BJ, before the city committed any more funds. Saying that it had to save $50 million in transportation and facilities costs, the District issued layoff notices to all 2,700 of its members.

Union leaders said they had offered $20 million in concessions. Members of 32BJ were out in force to lobby Council members.They were pleased with Council's action, even though it may not raise the money needed to save their jobs.

Earlier in the day, advocates were disheartened.

"It doesn't feel optimistic that they are going to get close to the $94 million, which is very troubling," said Shelly Yanoff, executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth.

Yanoff said that in considering various tax options, Council was swayed by the Chamber of Commerce's opposition to increasing the Use and Occupancy tax. And they also raised concerns about the large amount of untaxed property, including nonprofit hospitals and universities. Other cities get payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOTS, she said.



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Comments (43)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2012 2:05 pm

I think what everyone one must do is to put pressure on the PFT and the other unions to have the mayor and city council collect the 515 million property taxes that are owed to the city (most of that money will go to the school district). In a city were 1 in 5 people or delinquent on their taxes, some for as long as 30 years, there has been a total failure on the city to collect the overdue taxes. Until they start collecting the overdue taxes those in Harrisburg will not listen for any calls for more funding.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 14, 2012 6:11 pm

You are exactly right. People who pay their taxes should not have to pay more in order to compensate for those people who do not pay taxes. My only concern is whether there is enough time prior to September in order to collect $90 + million of the $500 + million in back taxes.

Submitted by Philly Teacher (not verified) on June 14, 2012 8:23 pm

They will never be able to get $90 million paid. They will only get money aggressively selling off the properties that haven't paid their taxes and that will take years to make a dent. Once people know we will sell your house if you don't pay more people will pay.

But the long and short of it is we cannot rely on ANY money from delinquencies to fund this year's budget shortfall and at best we will be able to get $43.8 million more each year by having everyone pay.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2012 3:26 pm

The bigtime slumlords are very, very often bigtime connected to the power politicians in the city so that money ain't ever going to be seen. Can you say, quid pro quo??

Submitted by Annonymous (not verified) on June 14, 2012 8:57 pm

Once again, South Philly/Center City gentrified areas are holding back making property taxes in Philadlephia more equitable.  People are living in houses which are worth 5 - 6 times my home and paying less in taxes.  AVI will benefit more than 1/2 of the homeowners in Philadelphia.  Why aren't our voices as important as the homeowners  "gentried" areas?  Why should any one who lives in a house with a 10 years of no property tax get any additional breaks? 

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 9:45 am

That's good news. We've already had our property taxes raised enough, and as for the use and occupancy tax, the last thing this city needs is more businesses leaving. We need to get the bus service and building maintenance areas privatized as quickly as possible and then get major concessions from the PFT.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 9:02 am

And then as people's living standards fall tax revenues will fall even more and we will have to make more cuts...and then there will have to be more concessions... and then...duh!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 10:06 am

Yes, unfortunately those are the times we are in. But it's time for shared sacrifice. Raising taxes on everyone else just causes them to spend less and then other people lose their jobs and no taxes are collected from them. Better to get some concessions from those already employed than to put others out of work.

Submitted by John Hill (not verified) on June 15, 2012 1:02 pm

With respect, you can't honestly talk about shared sacrifice at a time when corporations and private development are being subsidized by tax dollars or exempted from any tax collection.

Look at the Cira Centre, the big skyscraper by 30th St Station. Its occupants include hedge fund firms like Attalus Capital and a mess of other well-healed firms. They are exempted from almost all state and city taxes because they designated the Cira Centre to be a "Keystone Opportunity Zone," a designation created to spur development in "blighted" neighborhoods. They've gotten this break for years now and will keep getting it, while ordinary city residents are expected to pay more in taxes, get less back in terms of public services, and be expected to accept a worse standard of living.

The Cira Centre is just one building but this kind of nonsense goes on across the city/state/country/you-name-it. The public has to accept pain and austerity while corporations and private development gets bailed out.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 1:03 pm

And if those tax breaks weren't offered, it would have never been built. All those jobs would have never been created, or they would have been created somewhere else. As for the bailouts, they disgust me. I think we should get every penny back from them over time. The financial system was in collapse at the time. There was a complete credit market freeze in effect. Had we not done it, the ATM's would have been empty within a few days. Supermarket shelves would have been empty. Even McDonalds couldn't issue short term paper to pay their employees. And if you think it's tremendous hardship not to get a pay raise or to be asked to contribute towards your healthcare expenses, you might want to talk with some of the people who have been out of work for years or the 3 million that ran out of extended unemployment benefits in the last year. Wait until you see round two of the second great depression. Europe is collapsing before our eyes. Their governments borrowed til they couldn't borrow anymore. The contagion will spread here. This business of borrowing to pay for current expenses is coming to an end. I can't wait to see the interest rates the School District will have to pay to borrow that 200million. They're already rated junk.

Submitted by John Hill (not verified) on June 15, 2012 4:58 pm

The main thing that strikes me in your response is the reality that we've given up a lot of control of our lives and our well-being to the market. If we don't give corporations, developers, and financial institutions whatever they want no matter how ridiculous the cost is, no matter how reckless their leadership is, or no matter how little they care for the well-being of the communities they operate in ("no tax break? we're leaving!"), then they'll inflict terrible suffering on all of us. It's extortion and it's no way to live.

This is the major problem we're facing: It's not teachers being paid too much or expecting to retire with decent pensions. It's that our policies around public spending and taxation are driven more and more by a business agenda centered around making profit rather than serving the public good.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 6:13 pm

Excellent post! I wrote the one you responded to. In my mind, we have three major problems going on here. First and foremost, the entire world is struggling through a deflationary depression as a result of the overextension of credit in the early 2000s. This will not end soon and we are heading for the second downleg as we speak. Second, the only reason we have given up a lot of our control is because we, as citizens, have allowed it. We have one political party that caters to the top 1% and another that caters to the bottom 10%. The 89% in between are busy watching ballgames and don't even ask for a voice. Meanwhile, Limbaugh is on the radio and Rachel Maddow is on TV doing everything they can do to divide us. The third major problem is healthcare. We, as a country, are paying double what every other industrialized country pays. Our doctors make 2-3 times as much as any doctors in the world. We consume 80% of all prescription drugs in the world. Companies can't hire a you ng person if they pay them 25K and then have to pay another 22K per year just for the healthcare costs. As for the financial institutions, they have both parties in their pockets. Obama was the largest recipient of Wall Street campaign contributions of any presidential candidate in history.In return, he has ordered the DOJ not to prosecute anyone on Wall Street. Watch WIlliam Black

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 1:08 pm

Shared sacrifice because some loser named Arlene Ackerman, who caused a $629 million dollar hole ythat we are in and got a walking away bonus and there should be shared sacrifice??? Your serious??? Don't balance this budget on the backs of hard working Philly teachers. They are way underpaid compared to their suburban counterparts and already made $30 million in concessions involving their pension just last year. No more---hunt Ackerman down and get the money from her or have that lazy union budting Pedro Ramos beg Corbett for it--after all-he and Houston are appointed by Corbett----there is a major surplus in revenue in PA==Corbett is choosing not to use it again---one term Governor!!!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 1:34 pm

Do your homework!!! The PFT already made $30 million in concessions involving funding the pension system. What more do you want Philly teachers to do? We aren't talking about overpaid suburban teachers. We are talking Philly teachers---and no one is jumping to become one. No one would be talking problems with money if it weren't for the loser Administrator Arlene Ackerman----she caused the $629 million dollar hole we are in and the SRC still gave her a walking away bonus. Sorry but this will not get balanced on the backs of hard working teachers--teachers who spend thousands out of their own pockets fro school supplies!!!!! With a lousy hundred dollar reimbursement while suburban teachers get a $1,000 stipend for school supplies Bull****!!! Know your facts before jumping and blaming the PFT.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 2:19 pm

That's between the suburban teachers and their taxpayers. Here in Philly, we've already had our property taxes raised twice in the last few years. That's enough. It's time for public employees to accept some cuts or face major layoffs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 2:33 pm

Yes, let's increase class stratification and further reduce the tax base in this city.

Don't forget, the middle class and working poor here have to completely subsidize all the corporations who have offices in Center City.

You have no right to get upset about those who have the least getting an education with your tax dollars until you are upset about all the unnecessary tax breaks for the rich.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 4:33 pm

How so? We have the highest city wage tax in the country. We have high business taxes. With technology today, these companies and their employees don't even need offices in center city. The only people being subsidized are the large percentage of Philadelphians paying no taxes because they don't work and have no intention of working even if offered a job. We don't have enough higher earners left in the city to pick up the slack. Why? Because taxes are so high that many left. They voted with their feet.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 17, 2012 2:28 pm

Hear, here, hear! You forgot the 8% (2% above the State's 6%) sales tax (now all your purchases are subject to this thanks to the State's Recovery Tax); the high property transfer tax; and the additional School Tax (on investment income). Soon SEPTA will no longer offer Trans passes. So besides being more polluted and crowded, it's just too expensive to live in the City anymore.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2012 4:02 pm

The tax burden on Philadelphia residents is high - and Nutter's only contribution in his 5 years is raising taxes. Two teachers I work with who purchased houses recently both bought in the suburbs. So, even people who you would think have a vested interest in the city are fleeing.

As a single parent, it is very difficult to meet my monthly bills - another property tax increase will add to the stress. (I do not live in a gentrified area so I pay more in taxes than many who live in the gentrified areas - certainly more than those with tax abatement. I can't afford to move.) If I have to pay for my kids to get to school, I'll have to purchase 3 passes per week which is, as far as I'm concerned, another tax since suburban districts provide transportation. (Remember, charter students, by law, are provided by transportation which SDP students may go without.)

Although this has been said many times, the city needs to collect back taxes. It is very easy to see who owe the money - to to I have many neighbors who haven't paid in years. They are as capable as me in paying the tax.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 17, 2012 7:49 pm

The AVI is likely to decrease your taxes, then. The point of it is to have people in gentrified areas pay taxes that are appropriate to their homes' values. People who live in stabilized neighborhoods would have unchanged or slightly decreased taxes.

The point of the AVI, when it was introduced years ago and not in connection with the school district at all, was that homes in this city are assessed in an antiquated way that doesn't take into account value added in neighborhoods like Graduate Hospital, Brewerytown, NoLibs, etc.

I've looked at the tax records for the house I live in in one of those neighborhoods and it last sold for less than 10k. It was gutted and remodeled. All of the other houses on the street have been gutted and remodeled. It would likely sell for 150-200 today. But that tax assessment hasn't changed at all.

Read articles on AVI from pre-2012. They've been pushing for this a long time, in fact, starting with people who live in those gentrifying areas.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 5:34 pm

For the last time--the PFT already made concessions by stopping the $30 million dollar payment into the pension fund. The SRC has $30 million right there. Now, you have the building maintenance workers and bus drivers ready to conceed $20 million and they do not make a lot of money. Most make under $35,000 per year. Is that fair to their family??? You don't mention the fact once again that your Arlene Ackerman caused a $629 million dollar hole to this District. If she didn't then we wouldn't be here talking about money problems in this District. Taxpayers ---we ALL are taxpayers. Lay off employees and you have less money pumped into the economy and even more people out of work. Think about it....

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 2:46 pm

It's always easy to blame the PFT---fact--Ackerman caused the $629 MILLION DOLLAR HOLE--NOT THE PFT!!! FACT FACT FACT.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 5:28 pm

Then when all the teachers quit teaching, which most will do - teaching is a difficult and sometimes horrible job in Philadelphia- the teacher salaries will have to be increased two or three fold to get teachers to teach the students. How much money will that save?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Yeah, sure. If the teachers quit they can go work in private industry. I don't know what they would be qualified to do, but I wouldn't mention your requirements for a 2 month vacation and the fact that you won't contribute to your healthcare costs.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 5:55 pm

Let me get you up to speed, since you seem to be uninformed. Teachers do not have two months vacation. Ask a teacher how many responsibilities and professional development they have during the summer. How much time they put in before and after work, and on weekends. And free benefits???? Many of us have left our jobs just to come home and have our lives to ourselves nights and weekends, probably as you do. As for what we can do with our degrees and experience? Ask the many teachers who have already left the teaching field for an easier job. Probably an easy job like yours.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 8:18 pm

They could always get a job shoveling meds into the gaping jowels of idiots like yourself.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 9:46 pm

I was wondering, if you think teaching is such a great job, why aren't you one? You last comment demonstrates that you apparently are not qualified. I guess you're stuck with your job.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 15, 2012 3:35 pm

O.k. the second "temporary" real estate tax hike was to save full day Kindergarten; then Ms. Ackerman found that Title I money could be used instead. Now the two "temporary" tax hikes are being made permanent, and they still need $94 million more... where did the money from the second one go, if it didn't go to full day Kindergarten? Where in fact did the increased funding from these tax hikes go? Where did the windfall from the sales tax increase go?

Frankly, now that our job has moved out of the City, and we will be paying as much as we would living in the 'burbs for our home taxes on top of the wage taxes, it makes no sense for us to stay here. Did anyone notice that totalling both the charter and District enrollments, and considering that there are some transfers from private schools; still the number of schoolchildren in Philly is declining overall? What might the reasons be for this "declining birthrate"?

The SRC has not taken responsibility for this situation. How convenient to say it was the responsibility of the former board. If so, then let the District declare bankruptcy as it rightfully should. The State oversight has caused this mismanagement. Let them follow through on their guarantee of a quality education. I wouldn't willingly have my tax money go to the reorganization plan as it is now, knowing that it will only require more tax money in the future with less guarantees for the kids.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 15, 2012 8:55 pm

Ms. Cheng,

I understand your frustration. Some of the budget gap is due to increasing enrollment in publicly-funded schools (mainly charters). See p. 11 of the 2012-2013 Budget in Brief ( or The enrollment in charter schools + traditional public schools means that there is actually INCREASING enrollment. So enrollment is part of the issue.

The other major component is pension costs. See this page from the Commonwealth Foundation for more information ( The difference in pension costs between 2010 and 2013 is HUGE, and it's going to grow with each passing year.

Part of the issue is SRC and District mismanagement of money. However, the pension costs are out of their control.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 17, 2012 2:16 pm

Thank you for your amazing research work; however I didn't find solid enrollment stats in the references (I may have missed them), only budget figures. I was recalling a line graph recently published here online by the Notebook using PSD stats from which one could total the number of students enrolled in the PSD and charters. The total number showed a steady decline over the years. Of course I can't pull it up using the search functions, so I found what I could to back up my memory.

From this article: ,dated May 22, 2012 quotes stats for June 2011 (assume it was tallied Sept. 2010) per PSD, there are 154,482 students in the PSD and 40,483 in charters. Added together that = 194,965. Next from the current tally (September 2011) on the PSD's website: ,146,090 PSD students and 45,999 charter = 192,089. There's a difference of 2,876 students between the June 2011 published and the current published stats who went somewhere other than PSD or charters in Philly.

An older article that also shows this same trend: . Here the article dated Spring 2004, states the PSD had lost 28,000 students since the creation of charters in 1997, and the charters had achieved an enrollment of 22,000... which leaves an overall enrollment decrease of 6,000 students between the two.

I'm very disappointed in Mayor Nutter's lack of vision which shows in his shallow interpretation of "rise in property values". These are not real wealth increases; instead they represent the dreams/greed of those who wanted to resell the properties at profit and who were not actually qualified to purchase at those prices; And now the City has caught the "fever"/greed. He and Council were disingenous when they touted the two recent property tax increases as "temporary", as guessed by nearly all City residents except the most naive. The City already has a high property transfer tax, through which they should already have reaped the benefits of the artificially high market values. Wow talk about unappeasable greed. Here's what will happen if they get the increase they want: there will be more defaults and more abandoned property. Our family is moving (we have had enough), so the City will lose the wage tax that they are garnering from a business that is not even located in the City. Our home will take much longer to sell at a greatly reduced price, if at all; so it will lose some of the transfer tax, and may end up being another abandoned home... unless we find someone more naive than we were when we first moved here.

Is there some way to measure the "increase in wealth" that the City was actually responsible for? Is there a Gross Domestic Product for businesses in the City? Certainly the current business taxes are already burdensome and discouraging enough. One measure of the City's "value" is the recently increased sales tax which has been a windfall for the City. It is more appropriate to find additional school funding there.

Submitted by Education Grad Student (not verified) on June 18, 2012 11:55 pm

Ms. Cheng,

I can't think of any place off the top of my head where there are numerical enrollment figures. I'm sure they exist, but it may require some digging to find them. I don't always have the time to do that kind of digging. It may be hard to have solid figures about enrollment for an entire school year as the figures probably fluctuate due to students moving in or out of the city and between schools. However, I don't know how significant these fluctuations are and, thus, how significant they could affect enrollment figures.

As for AVI, it should be neutral this year and then go into effect next year. However, with the District's financial situation, they need the money from AVI. Taxing businesses isn't the best strategy because the last thing this city needs is fewer jobs. The City and District are between a rock and a hard place. The fact is that raising taxes is not going to improve the issue. What needs to happen is pension reform. Under Tom Ridge, the pensions for public employees doubled from 35% of salary at retirement to 70% of salary at retirement ( There needs to be some compromise on pension costs, otherwise it will bankrupt public education in this state for the majority of students in public schools. This issue is not just present in Philadelphia, but in the majority of other school districts as well. In addition, there should be a cut off for receiving a pension. Someone like Joe Paterno, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary, SHOULD NOT be receiving a pension! There needs to be a cap so that no one making more than $100,000 could receive a pension for that amount of salary. They could receive a pension for salary up to $100,000, but no more than that.

The best way to raise revenue at this point would be to tax things like candy, soda, and other non-essential food items. Sales tax tends to be regressive because it is blind to income. But at this point, knowing that collecting overdue and back taxes won't be enough and AVI won't be a source of new revenue, a sales tax on nonessential items like candy and soda would be a good start.

Submitted by Philly Parent and Teacher (not verified) on June 19, 2012 2:33 am

The pension change was from 60% to 70% (not your figure). Before 2003, the multiplier was times 2 and under Ridge, it went up to times 2.5. The percentage we (teachers) contributed also went up - from 6% to 7.5%. So, teachers who retired since 2003 have made a nice windfall. Those of us who will work at least 20 years past 2003 will certainly pay our fair share.

Those receiving pensions over $100,000 are the higher ups at 440 and now 12 month principals / administrators - not teachers. (Ted Kirsch and Jerry Jordan also fall under this category). Member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and City Council members also receive more than a 6 figure pension. (Also, the mayors, higher ups in the executive branch in Philadelphia, etc. will get six figure pensions). This doesn't include DROP - that is in addition to the pension. Why aren't we hearing more complaints about their pensions?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 19, 2012 7:52 am

Speaking of 12 month principals, why is it that maintenance workers are facing layoffs while principals are reaping the benefits of a nice increase in salary that they started receiving during the Ackerman regime, when they went from 10 months to 12 months? Our building is not open to parents during the summer, except during the last weeks of August, for registration.

Submitted by Ms.Cheng (not verified) on June 19, 2012 3:49 pm

I know you can access the latest enrollment stats for the District's and charter schools on the District's website; and I know the Notebook published a multiyear graph, that doesn't seem to pull up under a simple search with keywords "enrollment", "enrollment graph", etc. I'm sure (for those who have time, which unfortunately I also don't) the District could provide the figures on request.

As another commenter wrote, AVI is a reasonable concept; the timing however could not have been worse. The values of 2006 through 2008 (within the 5 year window being used) were artificially distorted by speculation. I'm not against AVI if enough integrity were shown to correct for the market bubble. Instead, the Nutter administration feels absolutely no sympathy for those whose home values doubled in a period of 5 or 6 years, only to drop by a third in today's market. If the 1.8 mil is used, our home (based on the inflated values, $200,000) would obligate us $3,600 in property taxes. This is the range for a home with a much larger lot and square footage in the suburbs. Even if the home could be sold for closer to it's actual value ($140,000) , the taxes would still amount to $2,500. So if we move, we lose the wage taxes (don't work in the City) and get more home value for the taxes... no brainer. AVI as originally proposed, was supposed to be revenue neutral, as it should be; even more so as there have already been 2 sequential property tax increases already. Quite frankly it is outrageous.

It is not the taxpayer's responsibility to bail the District out; especially as it was a State oversight created dilemma. If the District declares bankruptcy (it does need the permission of the State, but any lawyer could point out that the District was under State oversight), then it can renegotiate the pension benefits. You are right about the miscalculation regarding the ability to meet pension promises. I would think that part of this is due to using "historical projection" (against every financial advisor's counsel) of returns on investments for the pension funds. So it is uncritical thinking again that gets us into trouble...

Sadly, things like candy and soda are purchased more by the poor. Agreed, collecting delinquent taxes would be the place to start.

Submitted by Teach (not verified) on June 15, 2012 6:39 pm

I'm a teacher, but also a Philadelphia resident who is strained to the bone with tax increases + increased consumer costs. Mayor Nutter seems to think his constituents are as wealthy as he is and can afford to hand over more money to bail out those who have been paid hundreds of thousands to screw up on the job. Sorry, but pull yourselves out of the fire.

Since the state took over our district a decade ago, it assumed not only the power, but also the responsibility to fund our schools. Corbett's attitude seems to be, "We give the orders, you foot the bill." I doubt that works for many people affected by this take-over. If you're running the show and demanding results, you can't withhold the money needed to reach those goals - unless your aim is to completely destroy the district. I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but from this governor, it's a plausible scenario.

Submitted by The Janitor (not verified) on June 15, 2012 7:54 pm

This all started with David Hornbeck and it has gone downhill since. Greed has wiped out the hard working school dist employees. Now the The School Dist. has a new building its called 110 N Broad st. Where in the world is Constance Clayton?

Submitted by The Janitor (not verified) on June 15, 2012 8:41 pm

The Janitor is being forced to retire before my time. I am finishing my long career with 28 a Building Engineer. I dont see a cure to this disease, so I rather take my early retirement with penalty and run. Good luck to all.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 15, 2012 11:04 pm


Submitted by Seth Kulick on June 17, 2012 9:04 pm

"And they also raised concerns about the large amount of untaxed property, including nonprofit hospitals and universities. Other cities get payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOTS, she said."

I think this is an important point. The statement of no confidence by Parents United for Public Education and Philadelphia Home & School Council that was signed by 49 schools (and I wish my daughter's school, Greenfield, had signed it as well), includes this point as one of the four in "our proposal":

"A process to engage parents, District leaders and the City in seeking alternative funding sources including a collective effort for additional state revenue, Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTS), and other sources of revenue. "

Daniel Denvir has written about this:

and the Committee of Seventy has this overview

If this is something the SRC wanted to pursue, I am sure that there could be a collective effort, together with parents, for this.

Similarly, the issue of the swap agreements and interest payments to the banks, and Wells Fargo in particular, should not be forgotten.

The SRC is certainly aware of this issue, since there were several people giving testimony about it at the Feb. 16 meeting, among other occasions

Again, as with the PILOTS, I think this is an issue for which the SRC, if it was interested in pursuing it, could gain community support and involvement for working on this as a possible source of revenue. But that seems unlikely. They are more interested in busting unions.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 2:27 am

The SRC needs to pursue PILOTS considering, for example, the Univ. of Penn's ability to buy properties and expand further east along with the many other "non-profits" who own prime real estate. I would think the SRC could work with other institutions who were injured by the Wells Fargo swap agreements.

Nevertheless, Philadelphia has to address tax delinquency. Other cities collect property taxes - why not Philadelphia? There is a mind set - from wealthy landlord to homeowners - that taxes are optional just like the gas bill. (In Philadelphia, those of us who pay our gas bill pay far more towards the "unpaid" bills than other cities.)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 6:17 am

The SRC union busting was clear in the first round of lay offs - nearly all were union members. When are the real cuts going to happen? We were told less "fat" at the top but none of the "fat" positions are being cut? The SRC is going after those making minimal wages while letting those making six figures plus stay in power.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on June 18, 2012 8:44 pm

None of the top positions at 440 are being cut instead they are laying of departments fully funded by grants. I don't think that is legal. SRC should look into that.

Submitted by Crayton (not verified) on November 2, 2012 7:23 am
I agree with Anonymous. The SC should check that one to make things clear.

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