Somerton talks about Community Day, CSX track plans and candidate’s views

The Somerton Civic Association discussed several additional neighborhood issues during its monthly meeting on Dec. 11.

SCA president Dolores Barbieri asked for volunteers to help organize the third annual Somerton Community Day next fall. The second annual event was held in October at Danny Boyle Playground and attracted dozens of families, businesses, political officials and community-based organizations.

Unfortunately, Barbieri said, funding for the event is becoming more scarce as state grant money is no longer readily available. The SCA will have to do more fund-raising on its own.

• Dan Lodise, chief of staff for state Rep. Brendan Boyle, reported that several homeowners in the area of Southampton and London roads received notices via U.S. Postal Service from CSX alerting them that the railroad plans to renovate its tracks. The modifications will accommodate “double-decker” freight trains, Lodise said. Several dozen residential properties share boundaries with CSX property. No timetable has been announced.

• Brett Mandel, a Democratic candidate for city controller next year, said he hopes to use the office to reverse the city’s trend of rising taxes and reduced public services. Mandel was director of finance and policy analysis for then-Controller Jonathan Saidel. After leaving the controller’s office, Mandel founded and ran Philadelphia Forward, a budget, tax and ethics reform advocacy organization.

In 2003, Mandel — who grew up in Rhawnhurst — served on the city’s ad hoc Tax Reform Commission, which recommended reducing the city wage tax, phasing out the city’s business tax and reforming the city’s property tax system to make it more uniform and understandable to taxpayers.

Since then, the city has seen reductions in the wage and business taxes, he said, and is moving toward uniform property taxes in the form of Mayor Michael Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative. ••