Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

City Council hires outside budget help

As Philly Clout reported earlier, City Council has awarded two contracts to get some outside help during the upcoming budget process. Former Council staffer Charlie McPherson will get up to $125,000 to provide analysis and financial advice. His work will be supplemented by Econsult/Fairmount Group, which will get up to $25,000.

City Council hires outside budget help

As Philly Clout reported earlier, City Council has awarded two contracts to get some outside help during the upcoming budget process. Former Council staffer Charlie McPherson will get up to $125,000 to provide analysis and financial advice. His work will be supplemented by Econsult/Fairmount Group, which will get up to $25,000.

As we wrote in a story about Council contracts back in June, McPherson's role is not without some controversy. At the request of City Council President Anna Verna, he's been working without pay for the past year. That's because state law prohibits former staffers to bid on government contracts within a year of their retirement. However, his constant presence in City Hall made some believe he had the ultimate inside track on any contract for budget analysis.

We've also raised questions about why Council needs so much help from outsiders in the first place. After all, passing the city budget is one of the major duties of that body. Why don't Council members already have the technical expertise on staff to handle it? Is McPherson really the only person in the city that can help navigate city finances? If so, that raises troubling issues about the overall competency of Council.

Before retiring in 2009, McPherson worked for city government for nearly four decades. He was one of the highest paid employees in city government and, as reported by Clout, collected a $528,434 DROP payment when he left.

To read our previous coverage of City Council contracts, click here.

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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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