Sunday, April 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Philly Gets Millions From Feds As Doomsday Cuts Loom

One of the strange ironies we’ve noted in the budget process is that Philadelphia is currently poised to make massive citywide cuts at the same time the federal government is pledging to send the city millions of dollars as part of the $787 billion stimulus package.

Philly Gets Millions From Feds As Doomsday Cuts Loom

One of the strange ironies we’ve noted in the budget process is that Philadelphia is currently poised to make massive citywide cuts at the same time the federal government is pledging to send the city millions of dollars as part of the $787 billion stimulus package.

But here’s the rub. Nearly all the money coming from the feds is dedicated for very specific purposes and cannot go to general operating expenses.

So if the city’s budget requests in Harrisburg don’t go as planned, and Mayor Nutter implements his “Plan C” doomsday budget, then the city will start laying people off, while spending millions on street repaving and airport improvements.

Here are just a few examples of the stimulus funding allocated to the city:

  • $26 million for improvements at the airport. (But who wants to travel to a city with minimal public safety and sanitation services?)
  • $15.7 million for street repaving. (Of course, there will be almost no staffers left in the Streets Department to keep these newly paved streets clean if the city goes to Plan C.)
  • $21.4 million for homeless prevention and other services. (Which no doubt will come in handy after if to 3,000 city workers lose their jobs.)
  • $13.9 million for job training. (A mere drop in the bucket of how much the city will need  if thousands lose their jobs.)

To put this all in context, according to the city’s five-year financial plan, the Free Library has a budget of $32 million this fiscal year, the recreation department has a budget of $33 million and Fairmount Park has a $12.6 million budget.

But at least one job is available in Philadelphia. The city is hiring a “recovery officer” to manage the stimulus dollars coming in.

We spoke to Mayor Nutter last week about this. He said he asked White House officials in town two weeks ago if they would consider providing cities with waivers to use some stimulus funds for budget problems. We’ve called the White House press office to see if they have any comment on that idea.

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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