Last Tuesday, the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools held a Halloween–themed “Monster March for Full Funding” at some of the most valuable buildings in Rittenhouse Square. PCAPS released a detailed report called “Short-Changing Philadelphia Students: How the 10-year Tax Abatement Underwrites Luxury Developments and Starves schools” and called for redirecting city funds from property tax abatements to education.
Students, teachers, parents, and activists dressed up in costumes and called on Mayor Nutter and City Council to put an end to wasteful tax giveaways for wealthy developers. Philly’s property tax abatement is considered to be the friendliest in the nation. New development and major renovations get a break on their property taxes for 10 years, with no cap, meaning even huge, fancy new buildings like those in Rittenhouse get a nice tax break. Just 20 buildings in Philadelphia account for almost $15 million in lost tax revenue that would otherwise go towards schools in 2014. Overall, property tax abatements are expected to cost the school district $50 million next year.
Following the release of the white paper, education activists had a Monster March to other large buildings that benefit from tax abatements at the expense of Philly public schools. 10 Rittenhouse Square is worth nearly $150 million and contains a condo owned by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. The building’s abatement costs the school district over $1 million annually! Adding more burden on the backs of teachers and students, Comcast Center’s abatement will cost the school district $1.5 million in 2014.
Check out some pictures from the Monster March below! Visit our online album here to see the rest of the photos from the day!