Mayor Nutter today said the city will lay off 12 more employees and delay training for new police recruits to deal with a shortage in revenues due to a delay in getting state approval for a temporary sales tax hike.
Nutter plans to delay a Police Academy class due to start in the fall. He is also eliminating six full-time positions in the Mayor's Office [two of the six positions are filled] and laying off six employees in the city's 311 call center and four employees in the Finance Department. Layoff notices were issued Friday. The cuts take effect at the end of the month.
Nutter’s budget -- passed in May – counted on getting state approval to increase the local sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar for five years and to make changes in how the city's pension fund is replenished. Those changes, worth $700 million in the city's five-year plan, would help balance the budget.
But Harrisburg lawmakers still haven’t given the city the go-ahead on either item. And the budget plan counted on getting $10 million per month in sales tax revenue. If approved, the sales tax increase would take 4 to 6 weeks to implement. So the city has now lost $20 million in revenue for August and September – and October may be next.
"Ten million dollars a month is real money," Nutter said in a City Hall news conference. "That’s the real cost of delays in Harrisburg."
Last week, Republicans in the state Senate said they were on track to approve legislation needed by the city by Aug. 26. That would give Democrats who control the state House, which approved the city's legislation Aug. 5, just three business days to vote on the Senate's amended version before the city's fallback budget would have to be implemented.
Nutter called on the Senate to pass the legislation without amendments so Gov. Rendell could sign it into law without it having to go back to the House for another vote. He worried the city's budget issues could turn into the old video game Pong, with the legislation facing further delays if changes are also made in the House. "We'll just go back and forth, back and forth, between the Senate and the House," he said.