Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Katz: City has money to pay for part of firefighters award

Last week, Mayor Nutter’s aides warned that there would be tough times ahead if the city lost an appeal of a recent arbitration award for firefighters. Finance director Rob Dubow said the city would have to make numerous cuts to afford the award, like reducing library hours and eliminating hundreds of jobs.

Katz: City has money to pay for part of firefighters award

PICA chairman Sam Katz said the board will vote on the city´s five-year plan sometime this month.
PICA chairman Sam Katz said the board will vote on the city's five-year plan sometime this month.

Last week, Mayor Nutter’s aides warned that there would be tough times ahead if the city lost an appeal of a recent arbitration award for firefighters. Finance director Rob Dubow said the city would have to make numerous cuts to afford the award, like reducing library hours and eliminating hundreds of jobs.

But Sam Katz, chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), told It’s Our Money that there may be another way. Within the city budget, he said, is secret money.

“I actually believe that the city budget has resources in it that, for litigation reasons, are not being disclosed,” said Katz. “Somewhere, buried deep in the recesses of the city budget, are some funds to take care of this problem. So this will not, in my opinion, ultimately be entirely a cut-funded arbitration award.”

The city has argued that the award, which has a price tag of more than $200 million over the next five years, would lead to deep budget deficit. Firefighters, meanwhile, have contended that the city could find funds to cover the award and should honor it.

Mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said the list of potential cuts, which were provided to PICA last week, are sound. The list was created by city departments this spring, when they were asked to show how they would cut their budgets.

“The administration believes the projections that we’ve laid out are reasonable, and we’re going to continue to work with PICA to show members that,” he said.

Dubow said last week that the possible cuts are speculative. He also emphasized that the city expects to win the appeal.

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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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