The city will not take any doomsday budget actions this week, Mayor Nutter said today.
At a City Hall press conference, Nutter announced that the city will not make any notification of service cuts to the public this week, instead waiting until after next Tuesday, when the state House of Representatives is set to vote on legislation that would provide budget relief to the city.
"We need urgent action right now," Nutter said. "Time is not our friend. The consequences are real."
House Bill 1828 will allow the city to temporarily raise the sales tax by 1 cent and delay some pension payments – moves that are worth $700 million over five years. If the legislation isn’t passed soon, Nutter will have to enact a “doomsday” budget that would slash 3,000 jobs and cut city services to the bone.
The course of the bill in Harrisburg was complicated by the state Senate, where the legislation was amended. The new version of the bill includes amendments that would bar elected officials from the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and would require the city to freeze the pension plan and create a lower-cost plan for all new city employees, which would have to be negotiated with municipal unions.
If there is no resolution on the legislation on September 8, Nutter said that on September 10 the city will start notifying residents about the pending cuts to city services. Nutter has asked the state House to approve the bill as amended. He says that any further changes will just eat up time that the city doesn’t have.
"Today we are still in the process of implementing a spending plan, the likes of which Philadelphia has never seen," Nutter said.
Municipal union leaders are actively campaigning against the amendments, saying they would hurt the collective bargaining process.