Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council Hears From School District On Budget Woes

UPDATED: City Council members got budget briefings this morning from the school district, which faces a $629 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

Council Hears From School District On Budget Woes

UPDATED: City Council members got budget briefings this morning from the school district, which faces a $629 million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

The district is set to come before Council for a public budget hearing tomorrow. Today members were briefed by district officials in three small sessions, so that a quorum of members was never present, which would have made the meetings public.

Councilwoman Janie Blackwell said district officials asked the city if they could provide them with a minimum of an additional $50 million to $55 million in funding.

Other council members said that providing additional funding through a shift in how real estate taxes are divided between the city and the district was simply one scenario discussed in the sessions.

The city is currently projected to provide $776 million in tax funding, as well as a $39 million grant to the district for the financial year starting July 1 – about 30 percent of the district’s $2.8 billion budget. Next year’s budget is far less than the $3.2 billion budget for the current year, which means major cuts to programs and staffing are planned.

Council members were given documents detailing proposed cuts and services that could be saved, like full-day kindergarten and SEPTA trans passes for students, if the city finds a way to provide more money.

“They gave us written material on the cuts,” Blackwell said. “It’s not [clear] on how they intend to get the money.”

Blackwell said she is sympathetic to the districts needs, but said Council would have to figure out what to do, noting that the discussion pertains to “what expenses can be shared…[and whether] we’re willing to find a way through millage or tax increases,” to raise the money.

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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