Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

City Makes Some Hires Amidst Budget Crisis

As the budget crisis has heightened, the city has been withholding vendor payments and delaying paying tax returns to try to conserve cash. Earlier this week, 12 city workers lost their jobs.

City Makes Some Hires Amidst Budget Crisis

As the budget crisis has heightened, the city has been withholding vendor payments and delaying paying tax returns to try to conserve cash. Earlier this week, 12 city workers lost their jobs.

But still, some staffers have been added to the payroll in recent weeks. Since July 1, the city has hired seven people, with all but one making over $75,000. One name in particular caught our eye – Suzanne Biemiller, who was hired to a job in the Finance Department on July 6 with an annual salary of $122,600.

When we called the Finance Department to find out what was going on, we got a call back from the mayor’s Chief of Staff Clay Armbrister, who said that Biemiller was previously in a grant funded position at the Office of Sustainability and was hired by the city when that money ran out.

“She was held over to help with the transition with the sustainability office,” said Armbrister. “There was an exempt position [in Finance.] We put her there as a matter of convenience.”

Asked if he thought this hire looked bad, given the city’s tough economic position, Armbrister noted that Biemiller -- who previously worked for the Chestnut Hill Business Association and Pew Charitable Trusts -- was hired before the city announced plans to withhold vendor payments.

“We do still do have to run the government and make some tough choices about personnel,” Armbrister said.

Bielmiller’s salary is higher than that of the new Director of Sustainability, who makes $95,000, less a five percent pay cut.

If the mayor is forced to implement the Plan C budget, Armbrister said the city funding for Sustainability would go away, although he noted that the office may continue using grant funding. He wouldn’t say what would happen with Biemiller’s job.
 

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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