This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Holly Otterbein for NewsWorks
Philadelphia Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr. continued Thursday in his crusade to change the city’s controversial 10-year property tax abatement. He introduced a bill that would allow the School Reform Commission to decide whether a portion of the tax break on new construction should live or die.
About 55 percent of the city’s property taxes are set aside for the School District; the rest go into the city’s coffers.
Goode’s proposal would require the SRC to determine whether to continue the abatement on property taxes that go to the School District beyond June 2014.
Currently, Council makes that call — something Goode said is legally questionable.
"We should be clear, legally, about whether the School District should have the authority to decide whether its tax revenues are abated or not," he said. "And the SRC should take a stand either way."
The proposal would put the SRC in the difficult political position of choosing between additional school funding, at least in the short term, and a tax break that critics see as unfairly benefiting big business and affluent condo owners. The schools opened this year with about 3,000 fewer teachers, assistant principals, guidance counselors, and other employees due to drastic budget cuts and attrition.