High stakes test for BRT patronage workers

Friday was a big day for the 54 patronage employees of the Board of Revision of Taxes who are trying to hang on to their jobs as the Nutter administration overhauls the agency.

Mayor Nutter, who took over day-to-day control of the agency last year through a temporary agreement with its board, is converting the patronage positions to standard civil service jobs. In order to survive the transition, the workers had to pass civil service exams consisting of 70 or 92 questions, depending on the position.

Not all the employees applied to take the test. More than 20 opted out, meaning they will soon be out of work. For some, the prospect of giving up political activity - which is forbidden for city employees - was unacceptable. For decades, they'd gotten around that rule by staying on the payroll of the School District of Philadelphia, where the same rules do not apply.

Theoretically the civil service exam was open to any qualified applicant. The city received 568 applications. But the city drafted such a stringent set of qualifications that only three applicants outside the BRT were deemed eligible for the test.

The city hopes to have the test results by the beginning of April.

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