Archive: July, 2009
We just got this release from the Council President's Office:
Verna Notifies Council Members of Possible Special Session
PHILADELPHIA, PA - City Council President Anna C. Verna has issued a memorandum to Members of City Council (attached) advising them that they should be prepared to reconvene for Special Sessions on three dates in August if action is needed to consider amendments to the City's Fiscal Year 2010 Operating Budget.
The city Administrative Board this morning approved some changes to police recruitment in the city.
The board – which includes the mayor, managing director, city solicitor and finance director – agreed to lift an age limit on police recruits and to allow hiring of experienced officers who already have state certification.
Currently all police recruits must be under 40 and all do their training at the Philadelphia police academy. Under the new rules there would be no such age limit and certified officers would not have the same Philly training requirements.
It's been more than a month but two things haven't changed: The planned SugarHouse casino in Fishtown still wants to rent a publicly-owned pier for temporary parking. And the casino's investors still don't have a deal with the Delaware River Waterfront Corp., which manages the land for the city.
Alan Greenberger, a DRWC board member and executive director of the City Planning Commission, told his fellow board members this morning that negotiations continue with the casino investors, who hope to be open for business by next summer. Their plan is to initially surround the first phase of the casino with surface lots and then start building a parking garage, perhaps in mid-2011. The investors want to rent the pier near Spring Garden Street for temporary parking during the garage construction. That pier was once home to the city's trash incinerator.
"Nothing's been finalized," Greenberger said of the negotiations. The City Planning Commission approved the SugarHouse plan of development last month, the last major bureaucratic hurdle for construction to start.
Comcast executive David L. Cohen, who serves as board chairman for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, called Mayor Nutter's doomsday budget plan "unthinkable" today after an early morning pow-wow between Nutter and the city's business leaders.
"I think this is almost unthinkable what the impact would be on the business community. The business community, we’re all about generating jobs and growing the economy and growing the tax base. And who wants to move to a city with no recreation infrastructure and no free library system, with twice a month trash collection," Cohen said.
Cohen, who also served as chief of staff to Gov. Rendell during his time as mayor, said that he and other business leaders would be reaching out to legislators in Harrisburg to urge them to approve Nutter's two budget requests.
The state budget impasse has delayed millions in payments to the Philadelphia School District.
We try to answer some of your budget questions.
Read about Councilman Curtis Jones Jr.'s dance moves in today's PhillyClout column.
PhillyClout has taken to calling it "Plan C for Calamity," the third version of the city budget for the fiscal year that started on July 1 that will be implemented if the state General Assembly doesn't approve a 1-cent increase in the city's sales tax and changes to how the pension fund is replenished.
Here are the gory details:
- The Police Department will eliminate 972 jobs, including 739 officers, 43 civilians and 190 jobs left empty.
- The Fire Department will deactivate six engine companies, three ladder companies and five advanced life support medic units. It will also eliminate 36 officer jobs, 120 firefighter jobs and 40 paramedic jobs. Five fire houses would be closed.
- The Health Department will close two Health Centers, eliminate the Medical Evaluation Unit and cut 112 jobs.
- The Streets Department will reduce trash pick-up to every other week and cut 400 jobs.
- The Department Parks & Recreation will close all recreation centers and cease all programs while cutting 450 recreation jobs and 142 park jobs
- The Free Library of Philadelphia will close all branches and eliminate 490 jobs.
- The Commerce Department and City Planning Commission will lay off a combined 59 jobs and cease operations.
- In all, about 3,000 jobs will be eliminated, including posts in the Mayor's Office, the Managing Director's Office, the Department of Licenses & Inspections, the finance Department, the Division of Technology, the Human Resources Department, the Records Department and the Department of Revenue.
Catherine Lucey & Chris Brennan
Mayor Nutter is now leading a City Hall rally called to talk about looming layoffs and service cuts if state lawmakers don't approve the city's budget requests. Nutter took the stage in the City Hall courtyard with Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Fraternal Order of Police president John McNesby and other officials.
The crowd chanted "no budget cuts," when Nutter came to the podium. "I agree with you," the mayor replied.
Nutter wants state lawmakers to approve a temporary 1-cent increase to the city sales tax and changes to how the city pays into the pension fund. Without those approvals, the city will have a $700 million hole to fill over the next five years.
We just got a copy of an email Library Director Siobhan Reardon sent yesterday to library staffers about today's budget rally at 2 p.m.*
PhillyClout wonders if workers citywide are getting the same message? And will they have to use personal time if they choose to attend or will they be on the clock? You may recall that last year before the Phillies Parade, Managing Director Camille Barnett instructed workers that they had to take personal time to attend the parade.
We've asked the press office these questions and will update when we get more info. Here's Reardon's note: