A  Fair-­‐Share  Plan  For  Philadelphia  Schools  
 
Philadelphia’s  public  schools  deserve  to  have  nurses.    Our  children  deserve  music  and  the  arts.    They  
need  teachers.    They  need  counselors.    The  Governor  is  doing  his  part  to  restore  funds  at  the  state  level.  
In  the  meantime,  Philadelphia  needs  to  ensure  a  solid  guarantee  for  Philadelphia’s  kids  in  September.  I  
support  Mayor  Nutter’s  call  for  additional  local  funding  for  schools,  but  the  Mayor’s  proposal  puts  too  
much  of  a  burden  on  Philadelphia  homeowners.  We  can  fix  our  schools  AND  keep  our  city  livable  for  
families  but  only  if  we  all  do  our  fair  share.  This  is  my  fair  share  package  to  provide  our  schools  with  the  
funds  they  need,  while  minimizing  costs  to  homeowners:  
 
 
1. Increase  the  Use  &  Occupancy  (U  &  O)  tax  rate.  
Funds  available  in  FY16  
YES  
Are  funds  recurring?  
YES  
Impact  on  School  District  budget  
+$42.5  million  
Impact  on  City  budget  or  services  
NONE  
Requires  State  action  
NO  
 
Under  AVI,  commercial  property  owners  received  unintended  tax  breaks  estimated  at  $72  million  
per  year.  I  call  for  an  increase  in  the  Use  and  Occupancy  tax  to  simply  recapture  part  of  this  increase.  
Business  leaders,  like  Center  City  District’s  Paul  Levy,  recognize  the  importance  of  differentiating  
between  the  taxes  paid  on  commercial  vs.  residential  property.  We  don’t  need  to  wait  for  a  
constitutional  amendment  in  Harrisburg.  Adjusting  Use  &  Occupancy  is  within  Council’s  control.  

SCHOOLS  BENEFIT:  $42.5  million  
 
 

2. Increase  taxes  on  Center  City  parking  lots.  
Funds  available  in  FY16  
YES  
Are  funds  recurring?  
YES  
Impact  on  School  District  budget  
+$7.5  million  
Impact  on  City  budget  or  services  
NONE  
Requires  State  action  
NO  
 
The  plethora  of  downtown  surface  parking  lots  and  garages,  in  the  words  of  the  Inquirer’s  
architecture  critic,  “visually  strangle”  city  life.  They  are  a  prime  example  of  what  happens  when  we  
criminally  under-­‐assess  land  values  and  allow  cheap  and  ugly  development  to  exploit  that  failure.  A  
modest  rise  in  parking  lot  taxes  not  only  makes  economic  sense;  it  makes  environmental  sense.  
 

 
Parking  lot  owners  argue  that  they  will  raise  prices  if  this  happens,  but  basic  economic  theory  
suggests  that  they  are  already  charging  as  high  a  rate  as  they  can.  

SCHOOLS  BENEFIT:  $7.5  million  

 
 
3. Establish  a  modest  PILOT  program  for  large  non-­‐profits.  
Funds  available  in  FY16  
YES  
Are  funds  recurring?  
YES  
Impact  on  School  District  budget  
+$10  million  
Impact  on  City  budget  or  services  
NONE  
Requires  State  action  
NO  
 
Great  cities  are  marked  by  vibrant  philanthropy.  As  our  non-­‐profit  giants  flourish  in  the  city,  City  
leaders  have  a  role  in  revitalizing  civic  investment  in  our  major  institutions  –  and  there  is  no  greater  
need  than  our  public  schools.  I  call  for  City  leaders  to  leverage  their  relationships  and  vision  to  re-­‐
establish  a  modest  PILOT  (Payment  in  Lieu  of  Taxes)  program  from  our  largest  non-­‐profits.  Non-­‐
profits  can  focus  the  PILOT  program  on  areas  of  need  –  school  nurses  for  example  or  resources  for  
the  school  breakfast  and  lunch  programs.  A  modest  PILOT  program  will  collect  $10  million  per  year  
in  the  first  year.  

SCHOOLS  BENEFIT:  $10  million  
 
 
4. Reduce  Mayor’s  proposed  tax  hike  on  homeowners.  
Funds  available  in  FY16  
YES  
Are  funds  recurring?  
YES  
Impact  on  School  District  budget  
+$45  million  
Impact  on  City  budget  or  services  
NONE  
Requires  State  action  
NO  
 
Property  taxes  are  the  bread  and  butter  of  school  funding,  but  homeowners  shouldn’t  have  to  be  
the  sole  source  of  local  funding,  especially  when  so  many  other  actors  don’t  pay  their  fair  share.  
Under  Governor  Wolf’s  proposed  budget,  Philadelphia  homeowners  will  still  see  a  major  property  
tax  decrease  in  the  next  year.  In  a  fair  share  plan,  instead  of  asking  Philadelphia  families  to  bear  the  
brunt  of  school  funding,  I  ask  that  homeowners  support  a  modest  $3.75  per  month  surcharge  on  
properties  (for  the  median  property).  Within  one  additional  year,  homeowners  will  still  see  a  
significant  net  decrease  in  overall  property  taxes  with  the  state  relief.  Parents  are  already  paying  
more  than  this  every  year  to  make  sure  their  child’s  school  has  paper,  football  uniforms,  and  school  
staff.  Let’s  pitch  in  together  to  make  sure  our  children  begin  to  have  what  they  need.  
 
This  is  how  the  property  tax  plan  would  break  down:  
 
 
Current  
Helen  Gym  proposal  
Mayor’s  proposal  
Current  total  rate  
1.34  
1.3937  
1.4651  
City  portion  
0.6018  (45%)  
0.6018  
0.6018  
School  District  portion  
0.7382  (55%)  
0.7919  
0.8633  
 
 

Helen  Gym  City  Council  At-­‐Large  

Education  Funding  Plan    

 
 
Median  property  tax  in  
FY16  
Median  property  tax  in  
FY17  (w/  Wolf  plan)  
 
 
Annual  change  in  tax  FY16  
Change  in  tax  FY17  (with  
Wolf  plan)  
 

Current  
$1,116.00  

Helen  Gym  proposal  
$1,160.95  

Mayor’s  proposal  
$1,220.00  

$759.11  

$789.53  

$829.00  

 

 
 

 
 

 
Helen  Gym  proposal  
$44.95    
-­‐$326.47  

Mayor’s  proposal  
$104.00  
-­‐$287.00  

SCHOOLS  BENEFIT:  $45  million  

 
This  investment  cannot  be  a  blank  check.    Instead  it  must  come  with  real  accountability  and  oversight.    
Every  line  of  the  School  District  budget  must  be  scrutinized.    I  have  done  this  oversight  as  a  private  
citizen,  and  I  will  do  it  as  a  Councilwoman.  
 
The  bottom  line  is  this:  Parking  lot  owners,  large  nonprofits  and  commercial  building  owners  can  afford  
to  do  their  fair  share  to  fund  good  schools.  If  they  do,  Philadelphia  homeowners  will  pay  less  than  half  of  
what  the  Mayor  requested,  $3.75  a  month  for  the  typical  homeowner,  with  future  reductions  promised  
under  Governor  Wolf,  to  ensure  our  schools  have  adequate  teaching  staff,  nurses  and  sports.      
 
There  are  many  long-­‐term  solutions  to  get  the  District  on  sound  footing,  including  increases  in  tax  
collection,  increasing  the  District’s  proportional  share  of  property  tax  funding,  oversight  of  the  parking  
authority,  accurate  assessment  of  land  values,  and  a  rethinking  of  our  approach  to  property  tax  
abatement.  The  District  should  also  deny  future  requests  for  abatements,  TIFs  and  KOZs  on  the  School  
District  portion  of  taxes;  and  City  leaders  should  work  with  the  Philadelphia  Parking  Authority  to  ensure  
that  the  proposed  sale  of  61  new  taxicab  medallions  is  subjected  to  the  City-­‐School  District  profit  sharing  
agreement.    All  these  ideas  are  important.    But  they  will  not  get  us  to  our  goals  this  year,  and  our  
children  cannot  afford  another  year  of  inadequate  funding  choices  for  our  schools.      
 
The  current  primary  race  has  exposed  enormous  weaknesses  in  every  single  Mayoral  and  Council  
candidate’s  “plan”  for  funding  schools.  Every  single  Mayoral  and  Council  candidate  should  provide  a  
specific  dollar  figure  they  will  provide  for  schools,  and  show  us  exactly  how  to  get  there,  this  year  within  
the  City’s  control  –  and  without  punting  to  Harrisburg.    If  they  can’t  or  won’t  get  our  schools  to  $105  
million,  they  should  show  us  what  programs  they  will  cut.  
 
It’s  time  for  us  to  take  the  May  19th  primary  seriously  and  with  real  options  for  our  schools  and  our  city.  
 
SUMMARY  
 
 
Helen  Gym  budget  
Mayor’s  budget  
Use  and  Occupancy  recapture  
Parking  lot  tax  increase  
PILOTs  
Real  Estate  tax  
TOTAL  

$42.5  million  
$7.5  million  
$10  million  
$45  million  
$105,000,000  SHARED  

$0.00  
$0.00  
$0.00  
$105  million  
$105,000,000  

 

Helen  Gym  City  Council  At-­‐Large  

Education  Funding  Plan