Philly City Council gives preliminary approval to bill slashing 10-year tax abatement

Pat Loeb
December 03, 2019 - 8:39 pm
Philadelphia Councilmembers huddle during the 3.5 hour public hearing.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's 10-year property tax abatement will be drastically lowered under a bill that gained preliminary City Council approval Tuesday evening. Councilmembers rejected multiple requests for changes to the bill that came during a 3.5 hour hearing before the vote.

The requests for changes came from many constituencies. Developers, as might be predicted, but also affordable housing advocates, who said the July start date for the changes could create problems for low-income projects in the planning stages. 

Jim Maranski of the Building Industry Association warned the phase down schedule in the bill —10% a year — would discourage new development.

"A change this drastic would have a major effect on the market and could spin real estate into a recession," he said. 


There also was a contingent of school advocates like Antione Little, who wanted the abatement not just phased down, but eliminated completely.

"When those developers are walking away with their pockets full of money, my three children that attend T.M. Peirce and every other child in the district are suffering," Little said. 

But Council stood immovable, though they huddled for an hour after the testimony before unanimously voting to pass the bill with no amendments. 

Council President Darrell Clarke said the bill was already the result of a lot of compromise.

"There has been a significant level of thoughtful conversation among individuals who are stakeholders," Clarke said. 

Mayor Kenney's chief of staff testified that the administration supported the bill though it, too, would have preferred a later start date. 

But he said the mayor opposed a companion bill to expand the homestead exemption on property taxes for long-time homeowners. That bill also passed unanimously.