On the heels of a Pew study showing that Philadelphia forks over $200 million in tax breaks annually, Councilmember Allan Domb introduced an ordinance requiring comprehensive, regular reporting on the impact of these efforts.
Domb’s reasoning: Politicians have little sense of what the city gets in return for the tax breaks and incentives it doles out.
“This has never been done before,” he said. “We’d like a third party to compile the report.”
Domb’s office said the legislation emerged from hearings called by Council President Darrell Clarke, following the release of the Pew study. Clarke and Councilmember Bill Greenlee co-sponsored Domb’s ordinance.
A draft of the legislation calls for Director of Finance Rob Dubow or a mayoral designee to collect and break down data on “all types of tax exemption, abatement, credit or other benefits allowed against city tax liability” – at least for the first year.
“It will cover all the tax incentives,” said Domb staffer Rachael Pritzker. “The first report will be fully comprehensive so we know what we're starting with.”
The legislation also requires reporting every three years afterward, but these subsequent reports would alternate between reports on tax incentives and tax exemptions.
Councilmember Helen Gym praised the legislation, which she said built on her own efforts earlier in the year requiring more impact reporting from companies that receive tax breaks.
“This is a very good complement to that bill,” she said, while in transit to the New American Leaders Project conference in Washington, D.C. “We don’t know if a lot of these programs work; we need a full analysis of job creation and opportunity so we see what we’re receiving in return.”
In other business:
- Bills to combat the lead contamination crisis in Philadelphia passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation.
- Councilmembers heard recommendations from a long-running council commission on criminal justice reform.
- Councilmember Cherelle Parker introduced legislation to codify a contract with AFSCME District Council 33, the union that covers the city’s blue collar city workers.
- A bill introduced by Councilmember Bobby Henon advanced zoning bills for a metal recycling plant and park space at 7777 State Road, in Northeast Philadelphia, which had been eyed as the site for a new city jail.
- Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown passed legislation to give local businesses priority in the city’s contracting process.
- Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr. won approval for a measure that would require the police and Commerce Department to draw up a plan to install security cameras on commercial corridors.
- Council voted to return trial lawyer Brian J. McCormick to the city Ethics Board.