SUPPORTING SMALL BUSINESSES & JOB CREATION
Starting tax year 2012, all new businesses that employ a certain number of employees are exempt from paying the Business Privilege Tax and certain licensing fees for the first two years of operation.
SUPPORTING FISCAL STABILITY
Established a budgetary reserve fund, commonly called the Rainy Day Fund, which can mitigate revenue shortfalls, ultimately minimize the need to increase taxes to balance the budget. This required a change in the City’s Home Rule Charter and voter approval, which it received in November 2011 with 72 percent of the electorate.
As the city transitions to the new property assessment system, Councilman Kenney is amending the administration’s policy in order to protect longtime homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods.
Required all contractors and subcontractors working at most sites to report their activity to the Department of Licenses and Inspections within three days of starting work. The bill helps to ensure that all contractors and subcontractors performing work in the city are licensed and paying the appropriate taxes and fees.
Reduced the fees associated with electrical permits and building permits for solar projects; Created a dedicated fund for Parks and Recreation programs and facilities through revenue generated from activities in Fairmount Park;
Started the annual John Redmond Memorial Basketball Tournament in honor of fallen firefighter John Redmond. Since 1994, it has raised almost $200,000 to foster sportsmanship among Catholic grade school students, fund high school scholarships, and sponsor programming at Catholic youth organizations.
Commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Riders - the more than 400 activists who rode buses in protest of racial segregation beginning in 1961 - whose nonviolent acts advanced the agenda of the American Civil Rights Movement; Spearheading the construction of a statue of O.V. Catto, an African-American who was a tireless civil rights activist in Philadelphia whose life taken in the election day violence of 1871.
Prohibited employers from reducing the gratuities paid to their service workers - waiters, taxi drivers, salon employees – by deducting the credit card processing fees from gratuities paid through credit cards.
SUPPORTING PRIVACY RIGHTS
Prohibited outside parties not involved in accidents from purchasing others’ police accident reports, which keeps the personal information of accident victims confidential and protects them from unwanted solicitation.
SUPPORTING FEE REDUCTIONS
Eliminated city fees associated with re-recording a property deed after a deceased spouse or life partner name is removed from such deed.
In 2012, Councilman Kenney has introduced legislation to:
Hold a public hearing to examine innovative ways to use citywide tax revenue to fund neighborhood-specific initiatives in struggling areas. Resolution 120025
Hold a public hearing to review and find solutions to possibly widespread practices in the construction industry of shirking city regulations and payment of city taxes. Resolution 120058
Hold a public hearing to scrutinize the city and School District’s use of qualified interest rate agreements (known as swaps) as financial investment tools. Resolution 120147
Establish a preference for sustainable and/or American goods purchased by city government. Bill 120135
Hold a public hearing to review the status of the city’s franchise agreement with Verizon Pennsylvania, Inc., which is building its FiOS network citywide. Bill 120279
Require refunds or waivers of towing and storage fees for vehicles that were incorrectly seized during a “Live Stop” procedure. Bill 120384
Hold a public hearing investigating the possibility of an increase in the City's use of incarcerated, nonviolent offenders to perform supplementary city services. Resolution 120440
Endow the office of the Inspector General with jurisdiction over delinquent accounts suspected of involving fraud or tax evasion. Bill 120474
Hold public hearings reviewing past and ongoing external evaluations of the Philadelphia Fire Department's management, operations, structure, system performance and service, with a particular focus on determining if adequate safety controls were in place during the warehouse fire of April 9, 2012. Resolution 120568
Modify the date when Council adopts the city budget so that it will include finalized revenue numbers from the state legislature. Bill 120632
Legislation from Previous Terms:
Accessible & Fiscally Responsible Government
Rainy Day Fund
(Bill 100303/Res. 100314, Effective November 2011)
Councilman Kenney reintroduced legislation creating a Budget Stabilization Reserve, also known as a Rainy Day Fund. He introduced similar legislation the previous council term, but it faced opposition within Council and from the previous Administration. It was approved by City Council and the Mayor in April 2011, then approved by 72% of the electorate in November 2011.
The Rainy Day Fund is maintained by the Director of Finance as a separate fund that is not to be commingled with any other City funds. Appropriations to the Fund will be made annually, provided that the total unencumbered appropriations in the Budget Stabilization Reserve do not exceed five percent of General Fund Appropriations.
Establishing a Rainy Day Fund was fiscally prudent and provides the City with additional funds to maintain services during periods of economic hardship – when revenue collections are reduced – or to fund emergency programs to protect the health, safety or welfare of city residents. Withdrawing funds from the account requires approval from the Mayor and a supermajority (12 members) of Council.
311 Call Center and Database
Since 2006, Councilman Kenney has advocated for a 311 call center and database for Philadelphia. 311 is a non-emergency service number for residents to call to place direct requests for city service as well as obtain other city information.
Cities with 311 call centers are able to serve their constituents more efficiently by dealing with individual problems and by tracking calls to recognize neighborhood and city-wide concerns. Furthermore, cities with 311 call centers can use this system as a 911 backup and in conjunction with the city’s emergency office for special events and crisis situations.
With Mayor Nutter’s commitment and the work of the Managing Director’s Office, Philadelphia launched its own 311 call center on December 31, 2008. This new service will streamline our city’s accessibility and improve city responsiveness and insight.
Removal of the Civil Service Pre-Residency Requirement
(Bill 080003, Enacted April 2008)
This legislation provided the city with a uniform residency policy for all City employees. While all city employees are required to live in Philadelphia, prior to this legislation anyone applying for a civil service position had to live in the city for 1 year prior to beginning the job.
Councilman Kenney championed this legislation to eliminate the pre-employment residency requirement. This change allows the city to recruit locally (including from our colleges and universities), regionally and nationally for the most qualified candidates for municipal jobs. The only exemption to this bill is for the laborer classification, which constitutes 766 routine manual work positions. The reason for exempting this classification is that these positions are easily staffed.
Parking Lot and Valet Parking Standards to Improve Tax Collection
(Bill 100611, Enacted April 2011)
This legislation adds certain conditions to parking lot licenses and valet parking permits that improve customer experience and the City’s ability to audit and collect taxes from these businesses. Both parking lots/garages and valet operators are now required to accept credit and debit cards for full payment and required to add their Business Privilege License number to their publically posted signage. Additionally, valet operators are now required to provide a receipt with the date and time stamped by the licensed off-street parking facility at which the vehicle was parked to each patron. This change ensures that valet vehicles are parked legally in off-street parking facilities.
Valet Parking Permit Fees
(Bill 100610, Enacted April 2011)
This legislation revised the Valet Parking Zone permit fees to accurately compensate the City for lost parking meter revenue. It is expected to generate approximately $145,000 in additional revenue.
Modernization of the City’s Procurement Process
(Bill 100334/Res. 100342, Enacted June 2010)
This legislation updated the city’s procurement process to allow for electronic bidding, reverse auctions, electronic execution of contracts, and cooperative purchasing, allowing for a more modern and efficient procurement process. It was endorsed by the Committee of Seventy and approved by 77% of voters in November 2010.
Divestment from Iran & Sudan
(Bill 080746, Enacted December 2009)
This legislation instructs all city contractors and city depositories to divest from businesses that do business in Sudan and Iran. In 2006, the city’s Pension Board adopted a divestment policy regarding Sudan, which Councilman Kenney helped expand their policy to also cover investments in Iran.
A Greener Philadelphia
Tax credit for Sustainable Businesses
(Bill 090119, Enacted December 2009)
This legislation aims to attract businesses to Philadelphia by offering a credit towards the receipts portion of the business privilege tax. The credit is available to 25 sustainable businesses and remains in effect for tax years 2012 through 2017. Companies must meet rigorous and comprehensive social and environmental performance standards. This tax credit model is the first of its kind in the United States.
Cool Roof Requirement for New Buildings
(Bill 090923, Enacted May 2010)
Under this legislation, all new commercial and residential construction is required to install reflective roofs, a feature that will reduce cooling costs and energy usage in the city.
Unlike traditional black roofs, reflective (or ‘cool’) roofs reflect the sun’s rays back into the atmosphere and release absorbed heat. This keeps buildings cooler and lessens the demand for air conditioning by 10 to 30 percent. On new construction, reflective roofs are comparable in price to traditional roofing materials but average energy savings of 20 percent. In addition to energy consumption benefits, reflective roofs last 5 to 10 years longer and help mitigate the urban heat island effect.
Green Roof Tax Credit
(Bill 070072, Enacted March 2007)
This legislation provides a Business Privilege Tax (BPT) credit for building owners who install a green roof on their property. The BPT credit is worth 25 percent of the total cost of the green roof installation, up to $100,000. Green roofs are layers of living vegetation placed on rooftops. They improve air quality, reduce storm water runoff and act as an insulator to reduce energy costs for the building.
Plug-in Vehicle Incentive
(Bill 070788, Enacted November 2007)
This legislation provides homeowners who own an electric vehicle the option to apply for a designated “electric vehicle parking” space along the curbside of their property. The owner is responsible for installing and maintaining the curbside outlet under guidelines established by the Streets Department.
Government’s Use of Hybrid Vehicles
(Bill 051139, Enacted March 2005)
In an effort to make Philadelphia’s fleet more environmentally friendly, this legislation created a purchasing preference for hybrid vehicles. Now, the city is required to purchase hybrid vehicles if the price is no greater than 10 percent higher than a comparable vehicle.
Towing Licenses and the Rotation Towing Program
(Bill 100536, Enacted February 2011)
This legislation revamped the licensing and rotational program for towing in Philadelphia. In an effort to improve enforcement and public safety, the legislation raises the standards for obtaining and retaining a tow company license and a tow operator’s license. Additionally, the legislation addresses the victimization that commonly occurs at accident scenes by prohibiting any tow company from towing from an accident scene unless dispatched through the city’s Rotational Towing Program; this change protects drivers against fraudulent and excessive charges. The legislation also names the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) as an enforcement agent. If the State expands the PPA’s authority to include towing, they would become the agency for issuing licenses related to towing and monitoring the industry to ensure compliance with the law.
Towing from Private Lots, Driveways, and Property
(Bill 100213, Enacted September 2010)
Victimization in the towing industry occurs all too often in Philadelphia. This includes illegal towing and towing practices, such as overcharging, denying payment by credit or debit card. This legislation creates transparency and a record of towed vehicles to ensure compliance with the existing laws.
Specifically, this legislation regulates towing from private lots, private property, and driveways to protect drivers from illegal tows and towing practices. By clarifying the rights of a vehicle owner and requiring increased oversight of towing locations, signs, and complaints, the legislation provides a number of safeguards to protect vehicle owners from being victimized. Specifically, the legislation requires additional information to be on the towing signs, clarifies that the tow company is responsible for this information, and requires tow companies to report a list of their sign locations to the City. In turn, the City will review these locations to ensure they are legal and post the information on the City's website. The legislation also requires a vehicle be ticketed prior to a tow by an enforcement agency. The purpose of the ticket is to create a record of the vehicle's location and violation.
Private Right of Action for Towing Disputes
(Bill 090827, Enacted January 2009)
This legislation provides victims who are overcharged for consensual tows a right of action. Victims are now able to bring their grievance before a court of competent jurisdiction and may recover actual damages, exemplary damages of $2,000, reimbursement for reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs, and such other relief, including injunctive relief, as the court may deem appropriate.
Require Towing Companies to Accept Credit/Debit Cards
(Bill 080004, Enacted June 2008)
This legislation requires all towing companies conducting non-consensual tows to accept credit and debit cards for full payment. The Philadelphia Parking Authority already had the policy of accepting credit and debit cards as a form of payment.
Long-Term Lease Agreement with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation
(Bill 100674, Enacted December 2010)
This legislation authorized the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation to enter into a 20-year agreement with the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. Under this agreement, the Foundation will expand current offerings and provide for seven-day-a-week operations at the City’s five ice rinks. Additionally, this agreement provides for capital improvements at these facilities.
Increasing Penalty for Misusing Handicapped Placards
(Bill 080149, Enacted November 2008)
When a person is issued a handicapped placard, they are also given a corresponding ID card. When an attendant of the Philadelphia Parking Authority witnesses a questionable case of an individual using a placard to park in a handicapped space, they can now ask to see their identification.
If the attendant finds that an individual is misusing someone else’s placard or a counterfeit placard, a fine of $1,000 can now be issued. This hefty fine is aimed to deter people from misusing the placards.
30-day limit for parking boats, motor homes, campers or vending carts
(Bill 080276, Enacted April 2008)
Prior to this legislation, the city often received complaints about parking spaces in their neighborhoods being occupied boats and campers. This legislation limits the amount of time these vehicles and equipment can be parked to 30 days. The legislation also covers motor homes and vending carts, and requires them all to be on wheels and readily movable.
Legalized Bells for Schools and Religious Institutions
(Bill 100537, Enacted November 2010)
Prior to this legislation, churches and schools were regularly violating the City’s Noise Ordinance by ringing bells to mark time or a celebration. Now, these institutions are able to legally ring bells or play devices that reproduce such sounds for no more than 5 minutes in any one hour.
Construction & Building Safety
Façade Inspection Ordinance
(Bill 090568, Enacted February 2010)
Councilmen Kenney and DiCiccio worked together to create Philadelphia’s first façade inspection ordinance. Many other cities, such as New York City, Boston, and Chicago, already had similar laws requiring regular inspections to enhance the safety of passersby walking below.
Philadelphia’s law requires all buildings six or more stories in height and all buildings with any appurtenance in excess of 60 ft in height to have a professional inspection of exterior walls and any appurtenances every five years. Any unsafe conditions must be contained immediately to protect the public and work must begin to repair the issue within ten days.
Covered Walkways around Construction Sites
(Bills 080623/080624, Enacted December 2008)
This legislation requires construction applicants who request to close sidewalks adjacent to their construction sites to include written determination that a covered walkway is impractical or unsafe. And it increased the load limit that covered walkways are required to support under the Building Code, which improves the overall stability and safety of covered walkways. This latter change was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.
Prior to this legislation, pedestrians were forced to cross back and forth across streets to get around closed sidewalks, greatly increasing their risk of injury. Philadelphia now joins New York City, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Connecticut and Minnesota in requiring covered walkways in certain circumstances.
Tower Crane Safety
(Bill 080622, Enacted December 2008)
In light of crane tragedies in other cities, Philadelphia was the first major city to enact legislation that regulates the individuals who install, inspect and operate tower cranes. The new regulations requires trained tower crane operation supervisors to ensure the safe operation of the crane and certification for those who operate the crane, including providing hand signals, verbal communications or rigging duties. The legislation also mandates a certificate of insurance.
This unprecedented standard of tower crane safety was produced through across-the-board collaboration. The additional safeguards in certification and inspection will enhance Philadelphia’s solid track record in tower crane operation, which translates into greater safety in and around construction sites.
Closures and Contractor Parking Around Construction Sites
(Bill 080466, Enacted July 2008)
This legislation created time limits for road lane and sidewalk closures and prohibited contractor parking on any closed sidewalk or road lane around a construction site.
Prior to this legislation, lane and sidewalk closures were granted without time limits, allowing these areas to remain closed unnecessarily. Additionally, contractor vehicles were often parked in these closed areas, giving the impression that the closures were merely for parking convenience.
Now, any closure permit issued can only be valid for up to one year from the date it was issued. Additionally, the permit contains a condition the prohibits any vehicle from parking, stopping or standing on the closed areas covered by the permit, unless the vehicle is in the process of loading or unloading materials, equipment or supplies.