Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council wants say over how city dollars are spent

Three weeks after Mayor Nutter vetoed a bill that would have tacked a $4 surcharge onto parking tickets to generate additional dollars for the maintenance of parks and recreation facilities and for a division of the Philadelphia Parking Authority –the sponsor City Councilman Mark Squilla proposed legislation today that would give council a say over how 10 percent of the operating budget is spent.

Council wants say over how city dollars are spent

Three weeks after Mayor Nutter vetoed a bill that would have tacked a $4 surcharge onto parking tickets to generate additional dollars for the maintenance of parks and recreation facilities and for a division of the Philadelphia Parking Authority –the sponsor City Councilman Mark Squilla proposed legislation today that would give council a say over how 10 percent of the operating budget is spent.

“We’re not going to take over the whole budget process,” Squilla said. “It’s a strong mayoral form of government and [the Mayor] has the ability to dictate most of where the money goes, but this just gives us a small percentage of the money that we could be moving.”

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the administration would provide comment at a hearing on the bill.

Squilla said the idea to propose a charter change came after discussion with the administration about his surcharge bill. Nutter squashed that bill because he said it violated the Home Rule Charter and state law, which requires that any parking revenues that exceed the base amount be directed to the school district.

“So I said how can we get around that? And they said the only way to get around that is to change the charter so that’s sort of what we’re trying to do here.”

Council would have authority over how hundreds of millions of dollars is spent under Squilla’s proposal.

"It seems as if [Squilla] is trying to take a function that belongs to the executive and use it for the legislative branch," said Zack Stalberg, president of political-watchdog group Committee of Seventy. "Council has the power of the purse and the ability to change the budget. I expect the Mayor will oppose it."

Currently the Mayor creates the initial financial plan which outlines how the administration would like to spend money and Council can make changes but ultimately the budget is approved or vetoed by the Mayor.

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
 Follow Chris on Twitter

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
 Follow Jenny on Twitter.

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
 Follow Sean on Twitter

PhillyClout Team
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected