Is this the same old false alarm? Or are these budget cuts for real?

As Doron wrote a few minutes ago, it looks like Mayor Nutter is moving forward with about $20 million in additional budget cuts. He announced today that cuts would hit departments across city government, including police officers and firefighters.

We've heard threats of drastic cuts from this mayor before. Is this the same old routine?

To be honest, our first response to the news that Nutter would be announcing cuts was to be skeptical. After all, this is the same Mayor who said he would be forced to shut down the entire court system if state lawmakers failed to authorize an increase in the sales tax. Threatening massive service disruptions has been one of Michael Nutter's preferred tactics.

However, this seems different than the “Plan C” fiasco that happened last summer, because there doesn't seem to be any real way to avoid the cuts. It really looks like City Council is not going to back any further tax increases, and the levy on sugary sweetened drinks seems completely dead. But Nutter says that without more revenue, the city will completely run out of money. If that's so, Nutter really only has one option available: cuts.

According to the documents released by the Nutter Administration, there are plans to hire fewer cops, deactivate two fire companies, and reduce library service to just four days a week. That means, after two years of tax increases and mostly invisible cuts, residents are going to feel a meaningful reduction in services.

Of course, we could be wrong (some members of council seem to think so). Maybe this latest turn is a carefully planned strategy designed to force Council back to the table. But we can't help but think that this time, it's for real.

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