Breaking News Alert: Phila Condo Tax Credit Bill Introduced

Mar 3, 2011

Today, Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney introduced legislation that would provide a credit against the tax for owners of condominiums, cooperatives and planned community units who do not receive regular City refuse, recycling and bulk item collection services. The bill would remedy the City’s failure to provide municipal trash collection to these residents.

Councilman Kenney introduced legislation over a decade ago that extended eligibility for residential municipal trash collection to include owners of cooperatives and condominiums. On June 13, 2002 the Bill was adopted by City Council.  Then-Mayor John Street returned the bill to City Council without his signature, with a letter stating that the City would not enforce the law.  In response, City Council filed suit to compel the Administration to enforce municipal refuse collection from community associations in the City. This step was supported by all members of City Council, including then-Councilmember Michael Nutter, now Mayor of Philadelphia.  In 2005, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied then-Mayor Street’s appeal in the case, and affirmed the Commonwealth Court’s opinion in favor of City Council as the final ruling in the case.

Unfortunately for owners of condos, co-ops and planned community units in the city, he issue of refuse collection remains unresolved.  While the City has extended an offer of weekly curbside collection, the volume of trash that these communities accumulate makes this an unsanitary solution that would cause many other health and neighborhood concerns.  Therefore, the City’s condominium, cooperative, and planned community residential unit owners continue to pay for a city service that they cannot use.

This is an issue, however, that is not limited to the City of Philadelphia. Community associations across Pennsylvania, and in fact across the nation, deal with this very same issue. In most states, owners in community associations pay municipal taxes for services that are, in many cases, not provided to residents who live  within the association, including road maintenance, refuse collection and other municipal services. The owners who reside in these community associations pay for these services twice – once through municipal/property taxes and again when they privately contract for the services not provided by the municipal government. CAI’s Pennsylvania Legislative Action Committee (PA LAC) has legislation that would address this problem and continues to fight for adoption of a legislative cure for this situation. PA LAC is monitoring PA House Bill 202 which would provide a state tax credit to owners in community associations.

In Philadelphia, Councilman Kenney is proposing that the City offer a tax credit of up to $200 per residential unit to address the disparity in collection services. CAI’s PA Legislative Action Committee will study the Bill and provide testimony if and when hearings are scheduled.

The adoption of such a tax credit would give momentum to a statewide solution to this issue. Please monitor your email and other communications from CAI for updates on this important development. Visit our website for more information on CAI’s legislative advocacy efforts.

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