BY NICK POWELL CITY HALL CORRESPONDENT Starting next year parking will cost Philadelphians $16 million more than it did in 2008 if a new parking tax bill before City Council passes. The bill, sponsored by Council President Anna C. Verna and Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco, would call for a 33 percent hike in the current tax rate, which works out to be a whopping 20 percent of the cost of parking your car in a lot. The parking tax as it currently stands requires drivers to shoulder 15% of the tax on every parking transaction. Newly appointed Revenue Commissioner Keith Richardson said the increase would generate an estimated $16 million. The additional money would go towards institutes such as the Fairmount Park Commission and to planting new trees around the city, part of Philadelphia’s transformation into a “green” city.
In Council chambers, the proposed parking hike was met with roughly as much fervor as indifference. Several Council members were not present for Richardson’s testimony and others seemed as if they could care less. Councilmen Jack Kelly and Brian O’Neill periodically talked on their cell phones, and others such as Councilman James F. Kenney got up and walked out of the meeting after giving his two cents.
Before leaving, Councilman Kenney stated that he was fully in support of the bill because, he said, “It’s the cars driving in the city that are messing up the streets.” However, he also stated that there needs to be an addition to the new tax that would enforce valet parking institutions to generate receipts, arguing that valets charge far too much money to avoid paying the tax. “It’s appalling,” echoed Verna, “Seventeen dollars for valet parking and it’s parked across the street.”
Councilman Frank DiCicco, who only a week ago said that “we’re going to have to bite the bullet” as far as raising taxes, had other issues with the bill. DiCicco argued that the tax might not generate the revenue that the city is hoping. “Are you taking into consideration,” he asked, “that it may actually encourage people to take public transportation, therefore not increasing the revenue desired from the parking tax?” It bears pointing out, though, that an increase of public transportation usage would also generate more revenue.
In an ironic twist for Philadelphia Parking Authority haters, PPA President Robert Zuritsky came out strongly against the bill, stressing that the city parking tax is currently one of the highest in the country and that “it will negatively impact all of the business in Center City,” as well as tourism. Zuritsky also requested a separate hearing to further consider these grievances. So before you buy one of those “Phucking Phascist Assholes” t-shirts, just know that the PPA has your back on this one.
Nick Powell is a journalism student at Temple University
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not sure what to make of this. Parking Authority trying to give drivers a break? This must be some kind of a trap.