Saturday, February 28, 2015

Council misses budget deadline

Today, Council blew its May 31 deadline to pass a budget.

Council misses budget deadline

Council President Darrell Clarke said that lawmakers missed their May 31 deadline because they´re "not ready" to pass one of most difficult budgets he´s ever dealt with.
Council President Darrell Clarke said that lawmakers missed their May 31 deadline because they're "not ready" to pass one of most difficult budgets he's ever dealt with.

Today, Council blew its May 31 deadline to pass a budget.

“We’re not ready,” said Council President Darrell Clarke. “It’s more important to get a budget that reflects the needs of the citizens of the city of Philadelphia, of the School District of Philadelphia, as opposed to a deadline that was established in probably 1954.”

Council must pass a budget by May 31, according to the City Charter. Council also missed this deadline last year. But the drop-dead deadline is June 30. If a budget isn’t passed by then, parts of city government would need to be shut down.

Clarke said that Council will “absolutely” agree on a budget by June 30. He stressed that this was one of the most difficult budgets he’s wrestled with as a lawmaker, and that the city still needs Harrisburg to pass related legislation.

There are signs that Council is coalescing around a plan. Clarke said that “probably a majority” of Council members want to raise more money for the school district. 

“I think the biggest question centers on where that money is going, how it’s going to be spent, what levels of accountability can be put in place,” he said.

Another big question: Will that money come from Mayor Nutter’s property-tax plan, a separate tax hike, or some combination of the two?

Clarke wouldn’t say whether Council supports Nutter’s Actual Value Initiative (AVI), which would revamp the city’s broken property-tax system and raise additional funds for the school district in the process.

“I never say what a majority of members are interested in doing until they actually do it,” he said.

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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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