The University may be asked to contribute money to Philadelphia coffers as part of a "financial rescue plan" to stabilize the city's budget. Philadelphia's educational institutions are not required to pay property taxes on buildings used for their educational purpose. But included in City Councilman George Burrell's new "financial rescue plan" is a proposal to ask tax-exempt institutions namely universities and hospitals to give money to the city "in lieu of property taxes." Assistant to the President William Epstein, said that he had not yet heard of any formal discussion between University and city officials on the matter. Epstein stressed that the University contributes to the city's budget by paying wage taxes - it is the largest private employer in Philadelphia - and taxes for property leased by the University to commercial operations, such as stores on the 3900 block of Walnut Street. The city's deficit on it's fiscal 1991 budget has reached $206 million. Last year, Yale University officials agreed to pay the city of New Haven $1.2 million for fire services, $300,000 for golf course property taxes and $1.2 million to close off several streets on the Yale campus. Craig Johnson, an advisor to Councilperson Burrell, said that the plan does not mention only tax-exempt institutions. But he stressed that these institutions receive city services, and should therefore "pitch in" to help the city. "What we're trying to do is say all the city's constituency have to step up and be part of an overall solution," Johnson said Monday. Burrell released the plan Thursday for public debate. Institutions which provide non-reimbursed services, such as hospitals which care for the indigent, would not be asked for the contributions. Burrell's plan also calls for the city to fire current Finance Director Betsy Reveal and replace her with a local business leader. He also suggested cutting consultant fees and operating costs in city departments, and increasing revenue with a sales tax. Reveal's office declined to comment. Burrell's chief of staff, David Hyman, said Friday that the city must show a comprehensive, united front in order to get crucial financial help from the state government. He said that Burrell's plan asks for help across the board. "The fiscal realities of today are changing some of the premises we've been operating under," Hyman said.Comments powered by Disqus
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