WHO SHOULD BE TAXED
It wasn't just audits that the candidates butted heads over. When Satullo brought up the proposed real estate tax and ongoing issues with the Board of Revision of Taxes, he asked the candidates why they had previously shied away from the topic.
"Where have you been?" he asked them. "All you have to do it walk into a neighborhood in the Northeast and people will tell you how messed up this is," Satullo continued, referring to accusations of inside dealing, favoritism and general incompetence of the BRT.
The responses came with more dissent among the candidates, particularly from Braxton. "Did you tell the mayor you disagree [with the real estate tax increase]?" he asked the incumbent. Butkovitz told the audience he is opposed to the increase,
though Nutter, who had endorsed Butkovitz, is in favor of increasing the real estate tax by 19 percent.
Mandel was the only one in favor of the real estate tax, and said it is currently the most logical option, since a business tax would not yield much revenue due to the current economic state. Butkovitz called the tax unfair, and said, "it's because of the zealotry of Brett Mandel that the only option on the table is a real estate tax."
Braxton replied that while it is an important part of the controller's job to assess taxes and abatements, no one currently in the office is competent enough to do so.
No matter the question, the candidates made sure to point out their own strengths, but never forgot to remind the audience of their opponents' weaknesses. This was equally true for the audience questions, which attendees wrote down prior to the debate. Some of the inquiries focused on technology and the potential to have a paperless government
, departmental waste, strategies for executing plans and governmental checks and balances.
Satullo gave the candidates one minute each to close, asking that they keep it civil and respectful.
Butkovitz emphasized the innovations he said he's brought to the position, and the decrease in school violence. "There is tremendous opportunity for growth," he said, "and I look forward to continuing the mission."
Braxton said the city is in need of moral guidance and is currently not getting forthrightness. Telling Satullo he wants the opportunity to bring leadership to the city, he said, "I'm in favor of change."
"Our city is in a fiscal crisis," Mandel said. "We can't afford to have a city controller who's not doing his job. I will be your budget bulldog."
Butkovitz, Braxton and Mandel will face off again in more debates, and finally, on Tuesday, May 19 for the Democratic Primary. The winner will face, in the November general election, Republican Al Schmidt, who was in attendance.