How Fast Will Philly’s Budget Recover From COVID?

(Image: Controller's Office) Philadelphia’s budget deficit was substantially resolved by the American Rescue Plan’s provisions for state and local aid, but what is likely to happen to local revenues next year and the year after as that funding starts to dissipate? Continue reading

Philly's Housing Trust Fund to Receive 2nd-Largest-Ever Payment, Thanks to Mixed-Income Housing Program

(Image: Rendering of 2300 Market | Tantillo Architecture) The Housing Trust Fund is set to receive its second-largest single payment, of nearly $1 million, thanks to a 222-unit over-build development in the works at 23rd and Market St. To be able to build at a greater density than would otherwise be allowed, the builder is utilizing the city’s Mixed-Income Housing density bonus program, and will make a payment of $948,330 into the Housing Trust Fund.  Continue reading

Philly's New Voting Machines Can Finally Randomize Ballot Position. Let's End the 'Ballot Lottery' Once and For All

(Image: Sixty-Six Wards) Philadelphia’s judicial elections are a lot like a lottery system, where a candidate’s randomly-selected ballot position tends to be the most influential factor in the race. Sixty-Six Wards writer Jonathan Tannen, in a 2016 analysis for Econsult, found that candidates who draw the top left-most ballot position can triple their vote total as a result of their lucky draw.  Continue reading

What's In the American Rescue Plan for Philly?

(Joe Biden campaigning in Philadelphia) Congress has finally passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Act, a historic piece of legislation that will provide a massive amount of economic aid to households, businesses, and state and local governments, along with many other significant changes that everyone is still unpacking. An analysis by the Urban Institute estimates that the combined changes will reduce the number of people living in poverty in 2021 from 44 million to 28 million, and cut child poverty in half. Continue reading

Derek Green to Hold Hearings on a Land Value Tax Shift

(Image: Center for Property Tax Reform) Councilmember Derek Green introduced an interesting resolution this week to hold hearings on the idea of shifting Philadelphia’s property tax in the direction of land value taxation. Continue reading

The Mixed-Income Housing Bonus is Good, and City Council Should Let It Work

(This completely fine building is patient-zero for the end of the Mixed-Income Housing program in Graduate Hospital | Image: Gnome Architects) Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron’s recent columns on two different homes that were demolished in Graduate Hospital, to be replaced with new homes using the Mixed-Income Housing density bonus, appears to have prompted some legislative action this week, although perhaps not in the way she intended. Continue reading

Federal Earmarks Are Back. Let’s Make It Count.

(Modern trolleys could move up the list | Image: DVRPC) President Biden has signaled his interest in pursuing action on infrastructure and transportation investments after the COVID aid package concludes. This is potentially a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make large transformative investments in transportation, renewable energy, broadband, and more, and it’s critical that our state and local leaders make smart choices about what to ask for. Continue reading

Major Elections Overhaul Heads to US Senate

National Democrats’ ambitious voting and ethics reform bill, HB1, passed the House on Wednesday night, and headed to the Senate on Thursday, where Vice President Kamala Harris broke a tie to end a filibuster and kick off debate on the Senate version. The House bill passed on partisan lines, with zero Republican Reps supporting it, and only one Democratic Rep voting no. Continue reading

Continued OPA Dysfunction is Leaving Money on the Table and Making Budget Season Harder

Property tax collections have been holding up relatively better than other city taxes throughout the last year, and Kevin Gillen’s Q4 housing report for Drexel found that city home values increased by about 12.8% from one year ago. Under a functional assessment system, this increase in real values could be cushioning the blow more from the COVID-related budget hits, but in the world we live in, the city's not bringing in what it should. Continue reading

Biden Says Vaccine Supply is Ahead of Schedule. Will Philly Be Ready?

Two weeks after the political fallout from the 'Philly Fighting COVID' mess, anxiety continues to swell around the Kenney administration’s handling of the vaccine rollout, and this week an interesting leadership rift spilled out into the open, where a team including several City Council members, former Congressman Bob Brady, former Mayor John Street, and a few unions leaders announced an independent effort to open a mass vaccination site at Lincoln Financial Field. Continue reading