IN HIS SWAN SONG as master of the budget, Mayor Street yesterday offered City Council a $3.9 billion plan that tries to preserve and slightly expand his neighborhood, social-service and safety programs of recent years.
There were no bold new initiatives offered by this mayor-in-twilight, and Council members sat quietly during the 20-minute address, not once interrupting him with applause.
Street's final budget is a case-study in trying to finish what he started, from paying for 200 additional cops to carrying out economic-development plans on the Delaware River and on a number of neighborhood commercial corridors, and by adding money to improve vacant lots or demolish abandoned buildings.
He proposes to continue the incremental wage- and business-tax cuts, returning almost $20 million in new tax reductions to Philadelphians.
Street had planned to make his budget address in late January but delayed until yesterday so that his staff could assess Gov. Rendell's state budget proposal.
Having seen the governor's allocation for social-services programs here, Street wants to go ahead with expansions in after-school programs, curfew centers and special programs for at-risk youth even though the money is not in the state budget.
As Street's staff later noted, the city is looking at a $108 million hole starting in July.
Pledging to lobby in Harrisburg for additional money, Street said, "We will do all we can to avoid retrenching in any program that has anything to do with our . . . anti-violence activity."
But Rob Dubow, executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which oversees city finances, said the funding gap is a "major problem for us."
He said he's not likely to recommend that PICA adopt the city's five-year plan unless that gap is resolved. For Dubow, the hole is $108 million times five years or $540 million.
Specifically at risk, according to city budget officials, are 10 new Beacon school programs, which provide educational and counseling services at community centers; 4,580 after-school slots; 12 curfew centers, including 11 that are slated to open by June; and a major expansion of a violence-reduction program for youth.
As for the growing homicide rate and crime in general, Street said that the 200 police officers, funded by the state and added dollars approved last spring by Council, will start hitting the street in March and then June.
"Thanks to our investment in public safety, serious crime has declined almost 16 percent over the last seven years," Street said in his budget address. "However, the recent rise in homicides and gun violence threatens our progress. Let me be clear, this administration will fight every second that I'm the mayor to make our streets safe for our children and families."
But while the 2008 budget shows an increase of 200 uniformed officers to 6,624, the following year the force drops back 63 officers to 6,561.