Sunday, July 5, 2015

Close the Deficit: Rev. Jesse Brown

It's Our Money is asking various experts and advocates to share some suggestions for how the city should deal with the $31 million deficit it has projected for this fiscal year (and remember, because it's the middle of a fiscal year, the city can't raise taxes). This recommendation comes from activist and former City Council candidate Rev. Jesse Brown. Philadelphia still has a budget gap of $31 million for the current budget year, and steps must be taken to balance the city's budget. The question is: Will more services need to be cut, or are there revenues to be found to fill the budget gap? My belief is that more can be done to find revenue. There are millions of dollars of uncollected taxes from professional organizations (such as law firms) which do business in Philadelphia, but which have principal offices located elsewhere. The City of Philadelphia has not shown enough desire to recover this money. We also have uncollected fees from outdoor advertising companies for billboards all over the city, and properties that are owned or controlled by the city that have not been put up for sale. These are just three examples of measures that could help reduce the budget deficit this fiscal year. It should be noted that the credibility of the Nutter administration is an issue here. The “bean counters” for the administration either failed to predict a three percent drop in the wage tax (in the face of a deep recession) or else deliberately provided a “rosy” view of the fiscal situation to pass the budget. The public should not be duped into believing that no one could have seen this coming, and that we now need to accept the closing of swimming pools and libraries, and the elimination of other essential services.

Close the Deficit: Rev. Jesse Brown

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It's Our Money is asking various experts and advocates to share some suggestions for how the city should deal with the $31 million deficit it has projected for this fiscal year (and remember, because it's the middle of a fiscal year, the city can't raise taxes). This recommendation comes from activist and former City Council candidate Rev. Jesse Brown.

Philadelphia still has a budget gap of $31 million for the current budget year, and steps must be taken to balance the city's budget. The question is: Will more services need to be cut, or are there revenues to be found to fill the budget gap? My belief is that more can be done to find revenue. There are millions of dollars of uncollected taxes from professional organizations (such as law firms) which do business in Philadelphia, but which have principal offices located elsewhere. The City of Philadelphia has not shown enough desire to recover this money. We also have uncollected fees from outdoor advertising companies for billboards all over the city, and properties that are owned or controlled by the city that have not been put up for sale. These are just three examples of measures that could help reduce the budget deficit this fiscal year.

It should be noted that the credibility of the Nutter administration is an issue here. The “bean counters” for the administration either failed to predict a three percent drop in the wage tax (in the face of a deep recession) or else deliberately provided a “rosy” view of the fiscal situation to pass the budget. The public should not be duped into believing that no one could have seen this coming, and that we now need to accept the closing of swimming pools and libraries, and the elimination of other essential services.

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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