With Philly’s Construction Tax ‘D.O.A.,’ Kenney Proposes Alternative

With one day left for Mayor Kenney to decide whether to veto a controversial new tax intended to pay for affordable housing, he is trying to reach a compromise with City Council.

Instead of imposing a 1 percent tax on new construction, Kenney wants to redirect real-estate tax proceeds from properties that have recently received the city’s 10-year tax abatement.

In the first year those buildings come onto the tax rolls, Kenney would send money from them to the Housing Trust Fund.

That would raise between $52 million and $56 million for affordable housing over the next five years, according to an administration official.

Kenney is facing opposition from some council members over his alternative plan.

Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez, who cosponsored the construction-tax legislation, said it would be “irresponsible” to spend anything less than $125 million over five years on affordable housing.

“It should be a really bold, high-number investment,” she said. “This tale of two cities, we’re watching it happen. Policy dictates what’s going on. Gentrification and displacement is all about policy.”

It is unclear whether City Council President Darrell Clarke, another cosponsor of the bill, would support Kenney’s idea. A spokesperson for him did not respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who voted against the construction tax, said she has “a lot of questions about the proposal we’ve been talking to the administration about … because many elements of it, the dots don’t connect.”

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