Council Asks: Why So Long To Spend City Capital Budget?

Most City Council budget hearings this year are expected to focus on how Philadelphia will spend its limited supply of money in the face of a $1.4 billion gap in the five-year financial plan.  But today's hearing, focused on the city's six-year capital budget, is off to a start with an unusual question:  Why does it take the city so long to spend its cash?

"I think somebody has to explain why it takes so long, so long, for the city to spend its capital dollars," Council President Anna Verna said. "We just keep rolling the capital dollars over from one year to the next, from one year to the next."

Alan Greenberger, head of the City Planning Commission, and Mark Alan Hughes, a top policy aide for Mayor Nutter, told Council that capital projects -- building and physical improvement works -- are often complicated and take longer than planned.  Hughes said the capital budget always faces: "Twin and competing pressure. On one hand, spend it really fast. But on the other hand, spend it really well."

The capital budget includes new spending of $63 million for the fiscal year that starts on July 1 and $495 million for the life of the six-year plan.