City Council’s tax abatement reform faces major hurdle

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia City Council members gave preliminary approval to slashing the 10-year tax abatement Tuesday, but the bill they approved faces a major hurdle.

With 15 co-sponsors and a unanimous vote to advance it to final passage, a bill that would phase down the tax abatement seems like a sure bet to pass at Council’s final session next week. 

But then the mayor got the bill and administration officials said he has a major problem with it.

The bill, as passed, would take effect in July, which means developers with projects in the works would rush to get the full 10-year abatement before that. 

But the Department of Licenses and Inspection is not equipped to deal with such a rush. The mayor’s chief of staff testified the administration was supportive of the bill but asked for a start date of July 2021, as did affordable housing advocates concerned about planned projects. 

Council, though, declined to consider amending the bill, so administration officials say if the bill gets to the mayor with the current start date of this July, he may veto it, and Council would have to start from scratch next term with four new members. 

Amending it now would mean either a suspension of Council rules or adding an extra session to the end of the term.  

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