Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Thank you, Councilman. I wanted to arrange it so I can see the light rather than blocking the red light.

My name is Monty Wilson. I'm a an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia and I'm here today in support of Bill 120054-A, the real estate tax installment payment agreement bill that CLS and legal services have worked with Revenue and Council staff on for the last 18 months to set up a formal system of written payment agreements for Philadelphia homeowners to enter into payment plans on their delinquent taxes.

I think many of us all know from the recent PlanPhilly article that came out last March that there are 40,000 homeowner-occupied properties in Philadelphia which are tax delinquent. This bill marks a big step forward, an enormous step forward in Philadelphia, towards a process of collecting that revenue for the City, while at the same time allowing these homeowners the opportunity to stay in their homes and make an affordable payment.

I'm very optimistic given that the bill has been placed on the Consent Calendar that this bill will pass today.

The thing I wanted to touch on base before my time ends is the next steps. I think this is an enormous step forward. I suspect that this bill will become a state and possibly a national model. It is comprehensive and well thought out, and I'd like to thank the Council staffers who worked with us. But the next step will, of course, be implementation, and the Department of Revenue and CLS and the housing counselors who have been asked to help these homeowners will need the resources and the funding to do that, and I would hope Council would consider that this month.

The other thing to consider is that currently in Harrisburg, unfortunately I learned last week that there is a new bill that -- delinquent tax real estate sale reform bill, HB 1409, has been introduced, which would essentially preempt the bill that you are voting on today, unfortunately. It would set up a mandatory maximum of 24 months to repay your delinquent taxes and also, I believe, bar the City from forgiving penalties and interest on the amount owed. It's directly contradictory to the work that we've done for the last 18 months, and I would urge Council to take a look at that bill, speak to our state reps and urge the Harrisburg sponsors to amend that bill so that we can move forward with this bill.

Having said all that, that's the work for the future. I am extremely grateful to Council for considering this bill. I'm optimistic that it's going to pass, and I want to take a moment to thank all the sponsors who were involved in the bill, particularly the folks that I have worked with from legal services, the folks at Philadelphia VIP, the Senior Law Center, and the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and PLA.

I would be remiss if I didn't thank people at the Department of Revenue, Clarena Tolson, particularly Frances Beckley, their Chief Legal Counsel who came to the table and worked with us, meeting with us every two weeks for months to hammer out the bill.

And, finally, I would like to thank three staffers without whom I think this bill would have been impossible: Sophie Bryan, former staff for Councilman Green; Jennifer Kates, Councilwoman Sanchez's staffer; and Todd Baylson, without whom I don't think this bill could have happened. I thank you all.

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