Jan 19, 2022 - Politics

Philly City Council narrows priorities ahead of 2022 session

Philadelphia City Hall tower is seen Monday June 25, 2018 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)
Philadelphia City Hall tower. Photo: Jacqueline Larma/AP

Boosting affordable housing and reducing gun violence are among the Philadelphia City Council's top priorities this year.

Driving the news: Thursday marks the first legislative session of 2022 for the 17-member council.

  • Axios asked legislators about their goals for the new year. Here's what they said.

State of play: Council President Darrell Clarke will continue to move ahead with his Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, a $400 million plan to invest in affordable housing and maintain commercial corridors, his spokesperson Joe Grace said.

  • Clarke's other priorities include reducing both poverty and violence.
  • "We need to stay focused on jobs and opportunities for our youth, giving them a chance to hope and find productive pathways towards better futures," Grace said, referring to deterring gun violence.

The big picture: Legislators will begin hashing out a budget following Mayor Jim Kenney's budget address, which he typically delivers in March. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

  • Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson will push for the city to dedicate $250 million toward violence prevention, up from approximately $155 million this year, his spokesperson said.
  • Councilmember Kendra Brooks will seek to boost funding for the city's Parks and Recreation Department and keep the Police Department's budget flat at $727 million.

Meanwhile, several legislators said they're eyeing tax reform this year. Councilmember Allan Domb told Axios that he'll pursue legislation to reduce the city's taxes in order to "stimulate the local job market and keep businesses from taking jobs elsewhere."

  • Brooks is expected to reintroduce her proposal for a "wealth tax," which would impose a levy on stocks and other financial assets, her spokesperson said.
  • Several tax reform proposals also are expected to come from a legislative working group this year, per a spokesperson for Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez.

What else: Councilmember Jamie Gauthier is looking to help nonprofits acquire surplus city land for affordable housing, community gardens and other projects.

  • Councilmember Mark Squilla is expected to put forward a proposal that would boost protections for property owners when neighbors seek to renovate or demolish their properties, his spokesperson said.

Of note: Councilmember Bobby Henon will be sentenced in February over his conviction on federal corruption charges last year.

  • Councilmembers Derek Green and Helen Gym each said they would pursue conflicts of interest reforms around how legislators disclose outside sources of income.
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