Monday, August 3, 2015

Four things that will dominate the budget process

Yesterday morning, City Council kicked off it's budget process by holding a hearing on Mayor Nutter's five-year fiscal plan. Over the next three months, Council will review the budget of almost every city department and agency.

Four things that will dominate the budget process

0 comments
DN

Yesterday morning, City Council kicked off it's budget process by holding a hearing on Mayor Nutter's five-year fiscal plan. Over the next three months, Council will review the budget of almost every city department and agency.

Now that budget season has officially started, what can we expect? What issues, ideas, and problems will dominate the debate? Here are four central themes to watch out for.

Trash fee and soda tax. Without a doubt, Nutter's two proposals to increase revenue will be the most controversial topic in the hearings. In fact, Council President Anna Verna used her first question yesterday to ask if the administration had considered alternatives in case neither idea has enough support to pass. Last year, it was Council that came up with an alternative to increasing property taxes (Nutter's original plan). It will be interesting to see if any members offer other ways to generate revenue in the coming months.

Cuts: Too much, not enough, or just right? In his last budget, the Mayor took big steps to deal with a $1.1 billion deficit over five years. However, this year's budget includes only $33 million in cuts. Nutter says more service reductions will be too painful, but expect some people to contest that point -- and others to oppose any program cuts at all.

Contract negotiations. The biggest unresolved issue in the budget is new contracts for three of the four city unions. Last year's budget assumed no wage increases and steep cuts in benefits, for a savings of $125 million. But the police union was recently awarded a new contract that will cost $80 million over five years. That puts a lot of pressure on the administration to find savings in its negotiations with the other unions.

Pensions, pensions, pensions. Like almost every municipality, Philadelphia has pension problems. According to testimony from Mayor Nutter's chief of staff Clay Armbrister, Philly's pension fund lost a significant amount of money when the stock market tanked last year. The city needs to deal with this problem.

Follow us on Twitter and review city services on our sister site, City Howl.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
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.

It's Our Money contributors

Tips? Comments? Questions?
Contact:

Holly Otterbein:
215-854-5809
hm.otterbein@gmail.com
@hollyotterbein

It's Our Money
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter