Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How much will the snow cost? Oh, about ten Phillies parades

With every snowflake that falls, the city gets a little more broke.

How much will the snow cost? Oh, about ten Phillies parades

( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )
( Tom Gralish / Staff Photographer )

With every snowflake that falls, the city gets a little more broke.

We're not sure how much more, exactly, but we can make an educated approximation: Budget Director Stephen Agostini told the Daily News that this weekend's storm probably cost the city about as much as the December storm -- $3.4 million.

Assuming this storm costs the same, that brings the total cost of snow removal for the year to date to a little more than $10 million.

Of course, when you look at that number in the context of the city's total budget, it isn't that daunting -- it represents about 0.3 percent of $3.7 billion in government spending this fiscal year.

It also looks tiny compared to big-ticket items like the Police Department ($522 million) or the city’s prison system ($249 million).

But $10 million isn’t exactly chump change, either.

It’s more than the $8 million per year Mayor Nutter hoped to save by shuttering 11 library branches.

It’s also more than double the $4.4 million the Mayor’s Office is projected to spend this year, and about 63 percent of City Council’s $16 million budget.

Instead of digging Philadelphia out of snow drifts, the money could have paid for 10 Phillies parades (city workers and residents would probably have had more fun, too.)

Remember the city commissioners? Good government groups have been calling for years to fold those row offices, which manage city elections, into the city’s normal bureaucracy to achieve cost savings and reduce government patronage.

Their budget this year: $8.8 million.

And reducing police overtime is often cited as an important way of reigning in costs. The money the city is spending on plowing and salting streets could have paid for 13 percent of the record-setting $76 million overtime bill in 2008.

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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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