Nutter announces cuts on heels of Council's budget - UPDATED

Coca-Cola workers and others leave after council voted against Mayor Michael Nutter's controversial soda tax, effectively killing the bill. In response, Nutter announced the need to cut $20 million from the budget and eliminate 339 positions. (Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer)

Mayor Nutter announced a series of cuts in response to the $3.9 billion budget passed by Council today, as he promised to do if Council did not provide additional revenue in the form of a sweet-drinks tax or other measure.

"Council is unfortunately proposing to spend money that is not really there," Nutter said as he announced the cuts.

A memo from budget director Steve Agostini to Nutter's chief of staff, Clay Armbrister, announced closures to two fire companies, the canceling of two classes of police recruits, and a cut in branch library hours to four days a week. The memo identifies $20 million in savings by cutting a total of 339 positions.

John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police in Philadelphia, said the loss of two police classes would result in 220 to 240 cuts by attrition over the next year. “You're 200 down in the city of Philadelphia, you might as well lock your windows and lock your doors and not take a vacation in Philadelphia,” said McNesby.

Last year, McNesby shrugged off Nutter’s threatened police cuts, saying he would not sacrifice public safety, which has been his greatest area of success. McNesby was similarly confident on Thursday. “There's always money to be found,” he said. “You're not going to continue to get the same results with less people.”

Gloria Guard, president of the People’s Emergency Center shelter, one of the social service providers who supported Nutter’s efforts to generate more revenue, called it “Death by a thousand razor cuts.”


Would you prefer a soda tax or fire and library service cuts?

“Truly, these cuts will mean fewer shelter beds, fewer meals, fewer social workers,” Guard wrote in an email. “Then, the taxpayers will be troubled because they will see a growing number of people on the street….Sad, and often overwhelming.”

The cuts to existing services, (295 positions and $15.6 million) are:

-- Two new police classes in 2010-2011. $4.5 million

-- Two fire companies, 40 positions. $3.56 million.

-- Branch libraries down to four days a week. $2.5 million.

-- Licenses and inspections by $661,000, would affect demolitions.

-- $1.7 million to managing director's office, including youth violence prevention, Town Watch integrated services, and the CLIP program.

-- Division of Technology, $1.2 million.

-- Office of Supportive Housing, $500,000.

-- Fleet Management,  $390,000.

-- Philadelphia Cultural Fund, $240,000.

-- Inspector General's Office, $100,000.

New programs eliminated ($4.5 million, 44 positions):

-- $1.5 million for improvement to current services.

-- Parks and Rec Tree planting, $2.5 million.

-- Maintenance Assessment Team in Department of Public Property, $300,000.

-- Long Range planning team in Planning Commission eliminated, reduced by $200,000.


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