Archive: March, 2009
11:32: Thats it. About a 45-50 minute speech.
11:28: The mayor is winding up. He's outlining his vision of the city, and its government, once the recession ends. He sees a leaner, more efficient government. "We're taking steps now to make our efficient success inevitable."
11:24: Nutter wants to study the row offices, which were the subject of a recent critical report by the Committee of Seventy. Nutter wants to figure out if the city can save money by reducing, consolidating, or eliminating those offices.
The mayor's proposed budget and five-year plan are available below.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.
After months of preparation and an unprecedented amount of public input, Mayor Nutter is now officially delivering his $3.84 billion budget and five-year plan to City Council.
The document is a direct challenge to city labor unions.
In addition to massive (though theoretically temporary) tax hikes, Nutter's budget is a clear declaration that he intends to use the fiscal crisis to win major concessions from the city's workforce.
Former Mayor John F. Street is on council chambers for Mayor Nutter's budget address, and was warmly greeted by old adversary Jim Kenney and others.
Not sure yet what he's here for, although he remains chair of the Philadelphia Housing Authority's board of directors.
Council President Anna Verna recognizes him and he gets a round of applause.
Click here for Philly.com's politics page.
CORRECTION from earlier post: Councilman Brian J. O'Neill is not enrolled in DROP. Councilman Frank Rizzo is.
Mayor Nutter will ask Council members to disqualify themselves and other elected officials from the controversial DROP pension plan, sources said today.
Nutter is notifying Council this afternoon that he will introduce a bill in Council Thursday, along with his budget, would forbid elected officials from collecting a lump-sum pension payment upon retirement under the Deferred Retirement Option Plan.
Elected officials’ participation in DROP does not represent a tremendous cost savings — the entire DROP program was once estimated to cost $7 million annually, and elected officials are a small fraction of that — but Nutter has cited it as hot-button issue often brought up by city residents.
The program, whose costs been in dispute for the 10 years of its existence, allows city employees to declare a retirement date up to four years in the future. Their pension level is frozen at that time, and they then begin amassing pension payments while still working and collect a lump sum when they retire. The city recoups some of that money on the back end in pension payments are less than what they would have been if the employee stayed with the city and amassed further pension credit.
Nutter's bill would not eliminate the DROP program for regular workers, though Nutter has commissioned a study to determine DROP's impact on retirement patterns and its real cost to the city.
Ten elected officials are currently in drop, including Council President Anna C. Verna, Majority Leader Marian B. Tasco, Minority Whip Frank Rizzo and council members Frank DiCicco, Jack Kelly, and Donna Miller. Register of Wills Ronald Donatucci, District Attorney Lynne Abraham, Sheriff John Green and Clerk of Quarter Sessions Vivian Miller.
The bill apparently would exclude recently elected officials, including Mayor Nutter from the program, and would require Council members currently eligible for DROP to decide by year's end, sources said.
Nutter's bill would echo a similar measure introduced by Councilman Bill Green last year, but apparently would not grandfather in as many current elected officials. It would not prevent the much-criticized legal right of an elected official to collect a DROP payment, win reelection, then retire for a day before their next term and continue to serve. City Councilwoman Joan Krajewski and City Commissioner Marge Tartaglione collected their DROP payments last January and returned for another term.
If local elected officials all give back their city-issued cars, it probably won't go a long way toward reducing the city's five-year, $1 billion budget hole.
But Mayor Nutter is asking them anyway.
The mayor has been making a series of calls to ask City Council members and most other independently elected officials to use their own cars while on the job. Though it is a largely symbolic move, it will enable Nutter to say, once again, that he heard the pleas of the public about how the city spends its money.
Union plumbers and Philadelphia firefighters yesterday successfully deflected a change in the city’s plumbing code that would allow plastic PVC pipe to be widely used in construction, a cost-saving measure favored by developers and low-income housing advocates.
Council’s Committee on Licenses and Inspections on Wednesday continued a hearing on Darrell L. Clarke’s bill to allow the use of PVC pipe in all residential construction. Currently the pipe can only be used in structures of three stories or less with four units or less.
The Nutter administration backed the bill, saying Philadelphia’s construction costs are driven up by requiring metal pipes. But at least 150 plumbers filled Council Chambers to argue that the cast iron, brass or copper pipes were safer, and they were backed by the city’s firefighters, who said the chemicals emitted by the PVC pipes in a fire would pose a health threat to them.
A week before the March 9 deadline, City Council had only 11 applications to fill nine seats on the new Commission of Parks and Recreation. They received 207.
The board is to have a prominent role in creating rules and regulations for a new city agency resulting from the merging of the Fairmount Park Commission and the Department of Recreation, effective July 1.
On Wednesday morning, Council’s Committee on Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs began interviewing the first 39 candidates in an open session. Council is to submit between 18 and 25 nominees to Mayor Nutter, who will appoint nine members to the 15-member board, the other six positions filled by department heads.