This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
With the goal of stepping up the collection of outsized delinquent taxes in Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter has named the School District’s former chief recovery officer, Thomas Knudsen, to the newly created position of chief revenue collections officer.
“Tom Knudsen has demonstrated in a number of assignments – from turning around PGW [Philadelphia Gas Works] to acting as chief recovery officer at the Philadelphia School District – that he understands finance and the management of large complex organizations,” said the mayor in a statement released Wednesday.
Tax delinquency has been something of an epidemic in Philadelphia. Over half a billion dollars in unpaid property taxes was owed to the city and insolvent School District in 2012. No other large city in the country comes close to that level of delinquency, according to a 2011 special report conducted by the Inquirer and PlanPhilly.
The need for a tax collection czar was a recommendation made by a consulting firm hired by the city to improve the revenue collections process. In the new position, Knudsen will work with city departments to "identify negative trends in collections and develop corrective actions," according to the mayor’s statement.
Hired last January, for an intended term of six months, to take drastic action on the District’s "ominous" fiscal situation, Knudsen took control of the financial reins, imposing severe austerity measures, the result of which was the District’s adoption of his five-year plan.
While working for the District, Knudsen made $25,000 per month. The salary for his new position will be $160,000.