Not Exactly a Profile in Courage

A few weeks ago, Philadelphia’s mayor presented his proposed budget to the city council. That budget calls for a nine percent increase in the city’s property tax, most of the proceeds of which would go to support the city’s financially beleaguered and chronically underfunded public school system. (And just so you know, Philadelphia’s property taxes are extremely low because the city gets a lot of its revenue from a wage tax. Owning a home in Philadelphia is a great deal, especially for retirees. Once The Curmudgeon retires he’s definitely moving back.)

Anyhow…

The proposal of the budget signals the start of weeks of budget hearings as the city council goes through the budget and questions the commissioners of various city departments and the heads of various city agencies about what they’ve done with the money they’ve been given in the past and how they propose using the money they’re now seeking. Budget hearings can be quite contentious, especially with television cameras on and council members eager to prove to their constituents that they are bringing home the bacon on their behalf.

Although the budget hearings start shortly after the budget is proposed, the city council hasn’t scheduled a hearing to discuss the proposed property tax increase until late May.

Why wait so long?

Because on May 19 there will be a primary election for all seventeen seats on Philadelphia’s city council and fifteen of those seats are being sought by the people who currently occupy them.

And the last thing council members want to do is be seen having an honest discussion about the need for a tax increase days or weeks before the election. They’d much rather sweep that issue under the rug and put off that discussion because, after all, they consider getting re-elected to be much more important than doing the job for which they were elected.

But that’s Philadelphia’s city council: never unwilling to avoid addressing the important issues.

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