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.