The city of Philadelphia is on a hiring spree, sparked by the recently passed sweetened-beverage tax.
More than two dozen jobs have been posted since last week, and city officials say more are on the way. They range from data analysts and school-health specialists to a workforce manager for a prekindergarten expansion, all listed as the city prepares to launch both the tax and the programs it will fund.
"These are important early steps that we need to take to make sure the programs are implemented effectively," city finance director Rob Dubow said.
The city has budgeted about $2.6 million in the first year for the new hires. City spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said the salaries will be paid with revenue from the sweetened-beverage tax and, before the tax is implemented, from the general fund.
Mayor Kenney signed the 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet drinks, the first of its kind passed by a major U.S. city, into law in mid-June. The city plans to start collecting the tax Jan. 1.
The American Beverage Association has vowed a court challenge. Lawyer Shanin Specter, hired to handle the case, declined Tuesday to comment on when it could be filed.
Despite the threat, the city is ramping up, with about 40 new hires expected in the near future.
Fifteen are tied to rollout of the sweetened-drinks tax, including customer service and compliance jobs. The city is also hiring an education coordinator, who will lead efforts to make sure everyone from the distributors who sell sweetened beverages in bulk to the corner stores that sell them by the can and the consumers who buy them understand what the tax is and how it will work.
Three of the jobs are related to the city's planned expansion of prekindergarten, including one focused on engaging with parents and another with pre-K providers.
The largest share - about two dozen jobs - are related to the creation of nine community schools, which will become hubs for social services for the surrounding neighborhoods. Kenney announced the locations of those schools at a news conference Monday.
Each will have a community school coordinator. Deana Gamble, spokeswoman for the mayor's Office of Education, said the city is urging those interested to apply, in particular if they have firsthand experience in the community.
"We're looking for qualified people, and if they come from the communities, great," she said. "And if not, they at least need to understand the needs of those communities and be willing to listen and learn from the community."
Gamble said she hopes a majority of the education-related hires will be made by early September. City spokesman Mike Dunn said the city hopes to fill the first of the beverage-tax-related jobs by late August.
As the city continues to take applications, an old posting remains on its list of open job opportunities - a complete streets director.
Officials announced the new position in February, at the urging of those who said the city needed someone in charge of ensuring roadways are safe not just for cars but for bikers and pedestrians.
Five months later, it seems the city will soon be filling that slot, too.
Dunn said staff in the office of transportation and infrastructure systems are reviewing resumés and plan to begin interviews next week, with the hope of making a hire by the end of the summer.