A mixed year for Philly tax payers
Tax Day 2012 approaches, there’s no mistaking the trend in Philadelphia tax
collections: the city’s higher property and sales tax rates are sustaining its
finances. For the period July through March, real estate tax collections were
up about 1 percent from the same period a year ago and 24 percent ahead of two
years ago, according to analyses by the Pennsylvania
Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. (Controller Alan Butkovitz put the
increase at 23 percent over four years). Sales tax proceeds were 1 percent
ahead of last year and 50 percent ahead of two years ago. In contrast,
wage-and-earnings tax proceeds were almost flat this year and up just 3 percent from
two years ago.
To be sure, the property and sales tax rate
hikes in the past three years are not popular and are affecting the household
tax burden. How that burden compares to the city’s suburban neighbors is the
subject of a report we will release later this spring. The improved revenue picture
and the city’s five-year plan have earned some good marks on Wall Street. Last
week, Standard & Poor's raised Philadelphia’s credit rating.
This is expected to lower the city’s debt service expenses, in turn liberating
some money for other purposes.
population growth continues
Once again, Philadelphia’s population
appears to be growing. New figures from the Census estimate Philadelphia’s population
on July 1, 2011 at 1,536,471, up 0.7 percent, or 10,465, from the
official 2010 count. According to the Census, Philadelphia had 29,227 births
and 18,023 deaths between April 1, 2010 (the date of the official count) and
July 1, 2011, for a difference of 11,204. The Census estimates that Philadelphia
experienced a net in-migration of 6,280 residents from other countries during
that period. But that was more than offset by a net out-migration of 6,860
residents to other destinations within the U.S. The city was responsible for
about 39 percent of the population growth in the nine-county metropolitan area
over that 15-month period. See detailed census data here.
Metro job growth lags
For the last three
years, Brookings has been tracking the economic performance of the nation’s
largest 100 metropolitan areas through its MetroMonitor. The new edition indicates that the Philadelphia region, which
fared less poorly than many other regions during the recession, is not faring
as well now. Looking at the last three months of 2011, Brookings—which takes
into account changes in employment, unemployment, housing prices and the gross
metropolitan product—places the Philadelphia region’s recovery in the bottom 20
nationally. One telling indicator: the area ranks 88th out of 100 in
percentage of jobs added since the employment market hit bottom nationally in
Cities Cities across the
country are scrambling to get a hold on the changing digital world—with its
proliferation of data platforms, social media outlets and apps—and figure out
how to take advantage of it all. According to The Atlantic, Philadelphia is one of just two major cities
(San Francisco is the other) to follow the lead of some private sector
companies and create the post of Chief Innovation Officer. Adel Ebeid has been
on the job since August. How much difference one individual in one position can
make remains to be seen. A recent Wall Street Journal blog post cited a business consultant’s finding that many
companies with innovation officers have failed to develop the strategies needed
to help the officers succeed.
Vacant and abandoned property in Philadelphia is an old problem getting new attention. City Council has introduced legislation to try to address the issue after a PlanPhilly/Inquirer series on the problem. Users of the nonprofit site OpenDataPhilly have called on the city to make vacant-land data more accessible. On Flickr, we found this trove of evocative photos of abandoned Philly property. Watch the slideshow.
Philadelphia 2012 Update: The State of the City. This bi-annual update to our popular State of the City report found a city in transition on a number of fronts—with familiar problems and one promising demographic trend. Printed copies of the 2011 full edition are still
available, free of charge. To request one, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and postal address.
The Library in the City: Changing Demands and a Challenging Future, our March report, drew attention in Philadelphia and across the country to the role of urban libraries as one-stop, multipurpose community centers. These institutions face a daunting road ahead even as they provide a greater number of services to city residents.
Philadelphia's Workforce Development Challenge: Our study, released in January, found that half as many employers have signed up to use the tax-funded workforce system in Philadelphia as statewide. And the system, which is now being restructured, had lower job placement rates for laid-off workers.
|Upcoming Public Events
Apr. 16: Police Advisory Commission. Details here.
Apr. 17: Monthly board meeting of Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA). Details here.
Apr. 17: City Planning Commission monthly meeting. Details here.
Apr. 18: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan presentation. Details here.
April 18: Philadelphia Board of Ethics meeting. Details here.
Apr. 19: School Reform Commission action meeting. Details here.
Apr. 25: Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunity workshop on "Doing Business with the City." Details here
May 8: Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority board meeting. Details here.
May 9-11: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia conference "Building Resilient Cities." Details here.
|Our Most-Read Reports
The Library in the City: Changing
Demands and a Challenging Future. Read.
Philadelphia: State of the City 2011 and 2010.
A City Transformed: The Racial and Ethnic Changes in Philadelphia
Over the Last 20 Years. Read.