City Hall: Council Highlights from Oct. 17, 2019

Several bills aimed at lowering the tax burden for parents and grandparents who are the primary caregivers for children were introduced at Philadelphia City Council’s stated meeting on Oct. 17, 2019.

Taubenberger’s Tax Cuts

Councilmember Al Taubenberger introduced four bills intended to give Philadelphians with child care responsibilities real estate and wage tax credits.

The first bill would give grandparents who are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren a tax credit of up to 80%, with a cap of $3,800, on their real estate taxes per year.

“Unfortunately, the number of grandparents who serve as the primary caretakers for their grandchildren continues to grow here in Philadelphia and across the nation,” Taubenberger said.

Taubenberger pointed to joblessness, poverty, addiction, and mental illness as reasons why grandparents often end up raising their grandchildren.

“The parents often have no choice but to place their children in the care of the children’s grandparents, many of whom are on fixed income,” Taubenberger said, explaining the necessity of the proposed tax breaks.

The second bill Taubenberger introduced is similarly aimed at alleviating the tax burden of grandparents, with the additional consideration of grandparents who are still in the workforce. This bill would potentially result in a similar tax credit of $3,800.

Taubenberger also proposed The Parent Child Care Real Estate Tax Credit, which could provide, like the previous two bills, a real estate tax credit of 80% for parents.

The final bill Taubenberger proposed was the Parent Child Care Wage Tax Credit, also potentially providing up to an 80% wage tax credit for parents.

“Many Philadelphians have no choice but to have both the father and mother working in order to make ends meet,” Taubenberger said. “Those who are young often have no choice but to place their children in day care. They deserve a break on their taxes.”

Taubenberger said the four bills address financial inequalities that adversely impact seniors and working families, and that the bills provide much needed tax relief.

Taubenberger said there are no official estimates on the effect the tax breaks would have on the city budget but a budget surplus made it possible to consider these proposed tax credits.

Domb’s OnePhilly Resolution

Councilmember Alan Domb introduced a resolution calling on the city controller’s office to investigate and audit the $50 million OnePhilly HR system.

Domb said the system is supposed to administer payroll and handle pensions for more than 25,000 city employees but has encountered serious issues since its launch last December.

“Recent reports have indicated that thousands of employees are overpaid, and the city remains unaware of how much money was lost,” Domb said.

Domb said the severity of the issue was unacceptable, and it erodes both public and employee trust.

“For too long [the City] has been spending millions of dollars on an ineffective IT system,” Domb said. “We need to fix it now.”

Cummings Remembered

Councilmembers Blondel Reynolds-Brown and Cindy Bass acknowledged the sudden passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

Cummings served in Congress since 1995, representing a district that includes parts of Baltimore, Maryland. Cummings was also the chair of the Oversight and Reform Committee.

Calling Cummings a fearless leader and a champion of civil rights, Reynolds-Brown said Cummings’ work and courage should be acknowledged.

“He believed, as I do, that diversity should never be viewed as a problem, but instead should be viewed as a promise,” Reynolds-Brown said.

Bass, a former Cummings staffer, said while Cummings was not a Philadelphian, Philadelphia and other cities have lost a champion.

“I want to thank Councilmember Reynolds-Brown for that recognition of all of (Cummings) years of uncompromising integrity and service to our country,” Bass said.

 Lawrence McGlynn is a recent graduate of Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication where he earned a Master’s in Journalism. For the next several months he will be reporting out of City Hall on various council and committee meetings, the city’s budget, and how these impact the daily lives of Philadelphians.

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