University City is projected to see some of the most dramatic property tax increases in the city under Actual Value Initiative. For the University City District, it isn’t exactly clear what the overall effects of this will be.
Most of its finances come from large donors like Penn University and Drexel University, both of whom donated more than $1 million in 2012.
But there are a multitude of smaller donors like businesses and residents who also help support the University City District’s activities. It is questionable how sufficiently financed University City District would be if such donors became unwilling to give money due to increased property tax burdens.
Unlike Neighborhood Improvement Districts, which function by imposing a compulsory tax on some portion of the community, the University City District relies solely on voluntary donations from local institutions, businesses and residents.
The University City District has sought to benefit the neighborhood since its inception in 1997. It works to keep streets both safe and clean by maintaining public safety forces and street-cleaning teams who operate seven days a week. It also promotes employment by linking anchor institutions to community residents and helping to organize events that unite people around University City’s businesses, parks and public spaces.
Donations from residents are expected to be the hardest hit source of funding. There is less certainty for businesses. Mayor Nutter’s administration suggested $10 million in relief for small businesses, but there is no guarantee it will be approved.
The financial impact of AVI on residents and businesses in University City will be unclear until relief measures and the tax rate have been decided. Accordingly, University City District will have difficulty projecting donations for 2014.