Sunday, August 2, 2015

Opening shots fired in budget hearings

On the first day of hearings on next year’s budget, City Council made clear what it wants to focus on this spring: property taxes and labor disputes - two topics that have caused headaches for Mayor Nutter’s administration in recent weeks.

Opening shots fired in budget hearings

0 comments

On the first day of hearings on next year’s budget, City Council made clear what it wants to focus on this spring: property taxes and labor disputes - two topics that have caused headaches for Mayor Nutter’s administration in recent weeks. 

In a lightning round of questioning nominally tied to the five-year fiscal plan, top administration officials fielded inquiries over why they are demanding possible furloughs from blue-collar workers, why more money isn’t being reserved for the firefighters, why the city is turning to workers to solve the pension crisis and other questions on labor.

Union negotiations are typically the domain of the administration, but Council members are angling to get involved following the municipal unions’ protest of Nutter’s budget address two weeks ago that forced the mayor to abandon his speech.

“I’m not quite sure where this body stands or what kind of standing we have with contract negotiations, but as you can tell, we’re going to be involved using this process and asking questions,” said Councilman Bobby Henon, the former political director of the powerful electricians’ Local 98.

Council President Darrell Clarke said during an intermission Monday that he had never heard so many questions from Council members about union contracts.

Everett Gillison, Nutter’s chief of staff, told Council members that the administration is working to resolve contract disputes as soon as possible. Citing legal concerns, he declined to answer questions about the specifics of ongoing negotiations with the three city unions that have been working without contracts since 2009. 

Gillison said it remains "a time of continuing limited resources," He and Finance Director Rob Dubow emphasized that rising personnel costs like health care and pensions take up a bigger portion of the city budget every year and are a barrier to making investments with discretionary spending. 

Council members also asked about the city's tax-collection efforts and the Actual Value Initiative, the new property-tax system set to begin next year.

They will dig deeper into that subject tomorrow in their hearing with the Office of Property Assessment, which recently completed its reassessment of every taxable property in the city to begin implementing the Actual Value Initiative. 

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
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
 Follow William on Twitter

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
 Follow David on Twitter

Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter