Sunday, August 2, 2015

Butkovitz warns of uncertain conditions in city's five-year plan

City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the city's five-year plan is reasonable, but warned of several uncertain conditions that could impact Philadelphia's financial future.

Butkovitz warns of uncertain conditions in city's five-year plan

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City Councilmen Jim Kenney (left) and Bill Green (center) are targeting AVI as the city´s budget season begins Thursday. City Controller Alan Butkovitz is also a vocal critic of AVI, and questions the accuracy of its assessments.
City Councilmen Jim Kenney (left) and Bill Green (center) are targeting AVI as the city's budget season begins Thursday. City Controller Alan Butkovitz is also a vocal critic of AVI, and questions the accuracy of its assessments.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz says the city's five-year plan is reasonable, but warned of several uncertain conditions that could impact Philadelphia's financial future.

"While our independent report indicates the city's presentation of the plan is reasonable, the plan includes particularly sensitive assumptionswhich the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) should consider when assessing the Plan," Butkovitz said in a statement.

The city projects it'll collect $536 million in property taxes in fiscal year 2014 and $2.3 billion over five years, but Butkovitz said that amount could change depending on the number of appeals made under the city's new property-tax system, the Actual Value Initiative. He also noted it's difficult to determine how much the city will be able to collect from delinquent property owners.

The Nutter adminsitration is assuming $50 million in appeal losses and plans to collect $260 million from tax delinquents by 2018. 

Butkovitz also says the plan does not include more than $90 million in fringe benefit costs related to the firefighters' arbitration award which the administration is challenging, again. He added that additional money also needs to be set aside for contracts with the city's blue-and-white collar unions whose contract expired in 2009. Nutter is asking the courts for permission to impose terms.

The adminsitration did however set aside $31 million for the firefighters' arbitration award

Additionally, Butkovitz noted that funding for the struggling school district has "fallen short of the amount requested" and that could also pose a problem.

The administration declined to comment. PICA will soon vote on the five-year plan.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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