Archive: June, 2012
Sometimes, when our phone line was particularly quiet, we’d get worried that you had run out of neighborhood problems, and we couldn’t be useful anymore. On the other hand, that’s what we wanted, right? If you stopped calling, it could mean only good things. But then, someone would call to say that dozens of stray cats were camping out in an abandoned RV on a vacant lot. And we’d feel silly. Run out of neighborhood problems? In Philly?
The City Howl Help Desk is closing its doors for now, but we’re going to leave you with some lessons we’ve learned from looking into your quality-of-life complaints these last couple of years. We’ve broken these down into tips for you, and for the city. Thanks for trusting us with your gripes.
For the city
The last two years, when the city debated property tax hikes, state lawmakers from the Philadelphia area were not major players. But this year, as the mayor and Council consider a property tax reassessment — and the possibility of collecting $94 million from taxpayers for the School District — state lawmakers are all up in the city's business. Four different lawmakers have sought to stop the city from collecting more in property taxes after the reassessment.
One of those lawmakers, state Sen. Larry Farnese, withdrew his proposal to require the city to vote on the reassessment and sending more money to the School District separately, because City Council agreed to do so regardless.
Still, Harrisburg lawmakers have very much crashed the city's property tax party this year. What gives? Listen to this week's It's Our Money podcast to find out.
Screaming and yelling is not unknown at School Reform Commission meetings, but last week’s meeting was loud by any standard. The SRC met and approved a bare-bones budget that few are happy with, and parents and activists weren’t shy about saying how little they thought of a budget that leaves many schools without nurses, police officers and office supplies; could lead to mass layoffs; and counts on more than $200 million in borrowing, even though officials say the school district has already borrowed more than it should.
It’s a budget so unpleasant that even school leaders say it’s inadequate, and more than 50 parent organizations signed on to a "vote of no-confidence" against it.
But there is one big difference in how the SRC is conducting its business that represents a departure from past commissions: The SRC seems to be listening.