Philadelphia's City Council has approved a bill that lawmakers hope will lead the city into selling tax liens to private collection agencies.
Selling tax liens on foreclosed properties would bring millions to the school district that the city otherwise will not see, according to Councilman Bill Green, the sponsor of the measure. He said a Pew research study this summer revealed the city could raise $150 million by using agencies to collect tax liens. More than half of that total would go to the school district.
The Council approved the bill, 15-2. The measure next goes to the Mayor's Office. One of the no votes came from Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, who expressed fears that collection agencies will take away homes from those in tough situations.
Green said that there are consumer protections in the bill that put consumers in a better position. The protections include limits on legal fees that can be imposed on the homeowners, and a longer period of time for the owners to pay off their arrears.
He argues that the mayor already has the ability to sell tax liens, and that the measure provides new protections to homeowners who owe property taxes.
But Blackwell said she wasn't sure the plan goes far enough to help individuals at the "bottom rung of the ladder, the unemployed, the poor, those who are in trouble, those who are very low income."