By Al Taubenberger
We are less than two weeks away from the May 21 primary. I have greatly appreciated the support I have been receiving from voters in every neighborhood across the city for my re-election to City Council. Of course, this is the time for political trickery and I’ve been targeted. I want to set the record straight on who I am and the values I hold dear as a proud Republican member of Philadelphia City Council.
First, we must acknowledge that we’re living in one of the most politically polarized eras in American history. The result is divisive public discourse and political gridlock at every level of government. It has to change, and I’m a believer in practicing what I preach. It’s for that reason that I’ve made a conscious effort to work across the aisle with my Democratic colleagues on Council. That doesn’t mean capitulation, it means a spirit of cooperation to avoid partisan bickering in order to move the city forward and improve the lives of all Philadelphians, regardless of race, faith, gender, creed or political affiliation. If you want to call me a moderate, pragmatic Republican city councilman, I can live with that.
However, I am a lifelong Republican and proud of it. There are a number of issues that have come before me in my role as councilman in which my vote reflected my Republican values. For example, I was and remain strongly opposed to the soda tax. It is a regressive, costly tax that is widely reviled by Philadelphians. It’s caused financial pain for supermarkets, corner grocers, restaurants and families. It also has significantly under-delivered on projected tax revenues. It ought to be repealed.
I also have fought to reduce the city’s burdensome tax rates that continue to be a major impediment to business and population growth.
On the business front, I sponsored legislation that would eliminate the estimated Business Privilege Tax payments currently required of new businesses filing tax returns for their first year of business operations. Under the current tax law, the Revenue Department instructs new startups filing their first-year city tax returns to pay their current Business Income & Receipts Tax (BIRT), along with a one-year estimated BIRT at the same time. The new legislation requires startup businesses to pay only the current city BIRT tax. Also, businesses with seasonal cash flow issues have the option of paying quarterly instead of paying in full each April 15. It gives startups a chance to get their financial footing under them.
I also am deeply concerned about the current property tax assessments, which are pricing people out of their homes. The truth is that the Office of Property Assessments has been using flawed data that’s led to badly flawed assessments. I and others on City Council are pushing the Kenney administration for a complete overhaul of the office. If you believe your most recent property assessment and tax bill are out of line, you should complete a written appeal today. You can find it on www.phila.gov under “Appeals”. There also are taxpayer-relief programs available to you that can be found on the same site.
Instead of constantly talking about raising taxes, city government should focus more on finding ways to reduce government overhead, waste and duplication in order to save money. We’ll never tax our way out of all the challenges the city faces.
I remain committed to law and order and place a strong emphasis on public safety, which is why I have once again earned the endorsements of the city’s police and firefighters unions. I also find myself completely frustrated and disillusioned by the performance of District Attorney Larry Krasner, who seems to be more concerned with the treatment of perpetrators of crime rather than the victims of crime. It’s a disgrace.
I’m the guy who wants to make Philadelphia more business-friendly by reducing business taxes and eliminating bureaucratic red tape. I’m the guy who wants more cops on our street corners and more firefighters and paramedics on call 24/7. I’m the guy who wants our top law enforcement official to lock up bad guys instead of figuring out loopholes to set them free.
I’m a Republican and I’m proud to serve you as your city councilman. ••
Councilman Al Taubenberger is a resident of Fox Chase.