The Phlog: Nutter Proposes Budget

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Mayor Michael Nutter, with his budget in hand, moments before walking into Chambers at City Hall today to propose his financial plan for the city for the next fiscal year (Photo: Matt Petrillo).

Outside of City Hall today, a citizen asked a city custodian where the Municipal Services building is located. After she pointed him to the right direction, he told her, “Thank you! You must get people all the time asking you things about the city, where things are–you could run for an office, maybe even mayor!”

She replied, “That’s one office I wouldn’t want to be in.”

Mayor Michael Nutter could be in hot water in the coming weeks after the state proposes its budget, but he talked in confident eloquence today as he delivered his $3.45 billion budget for fiscal year 2012 to City Council and acted like a true gentleman–and politician. He first pretended to be friendly with City Council President Anna Verna as he opened his address:

“Let me begin paying tribute to a great public servant who has served the people of Philadelphia for more than half a century [60 years, to be exact], Council President Anna C. Verna. One of my proudest moments as a member of City Council – Madame President – was to cast my vote for the first female President of City Council in the history of Philadelphia.”

And he called out his overly critical predecessor, Mayor John Street, and thanked him for coming.

While M. Nutt no longer cares to butt heads with Street and won’t have to with Verna after she retires at the end of her term this year, a new problem looms for him (or the next mayor of Philadelphia, assuming that the individual will be a democrat, as it has been since 1952): Republican Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, who is still tweaking the state’s budget.

Nutter’s budget has obvious ramifications for the city, but before we rip it a part, let’s check out what lots of people are saying before he even delivered it.

A pamphlet distributed by supporters of Malcolm Lazin, a republican endorsed candidate for City Council at Large, pictured the Titanic sinking and reads that Nutter’s budget includes “100% increase in City Sales Tax.”

Not sure where that number came from yet, but we’ll update this shortly.

“Well, Mr. Lazin isn’t ready for prime time. There is no such  100% sales tax. There are no tax increases in the proposed budget,” says Nutter’s main squeeze Mark McDonald.

ACT UP Philadelphia, a group “united in anger and committed to ending the AIDS crisis” has been calling for Nutter to invest in housing for people living with AIDS since at least the summer. Mayor Nutter said today that he’s “dedicated to becoming the first major city in the United States to end homelessness – helping 2,000 men, women and children move into permanent, affordable housing,” despite that the Philadelphia Housing Authority remains in political turmoil as federal officials are taking action to take it over, meanwhile, a lengthy waiting list continues to force people on the streets or in shelters for  months and even years.

Finally, the Committee of Seventy gave its two-cents in a press release, which humbly began:

Philadelphia’s violent crime rate is higher than the other major U.S. cities. We have the second highest unemployment rate and are the third poorest of the Big 10 cities.”

The city has reduced its inmate population, however, saving the city $2 million in its prison system.

“More than a half-million working-age Philadelphians are barely literate. Almost four out of 10 public-school kids who enter ninth grade never graduate.”

Nutter responded to this head-on during his speech, and plans to invest “an additional $1 million a year in the Free Library specifically to support and promote adult literacy – a serious issue for our city that we will no longer ignore.”

The nonprofit is proposing to shrink local government–something that would sound psychotic if it were coming from a Tea Partier, but is something we all know needs to happen. It is also calling for Philadelphia to take “control of the troubled public schools,” since the School District of Philadelphia is currently run by the state–as is the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

It’s Our Money says the Mayor’s budget will have some room to pump money into a few services, like a new police class. It also budgeted $4 million for snow removal, which is funding that the city had previously relied on from the state.

Nutter made efforts to shrink the budget by slashing overtime, including $200K from L&I, $100K from fleet management $100K from finance. But he added $200K to the fire department’s overtime, probably because he was tired of all their bitching from summer 2010’s so-called “brown outs.”

Nutter also gave $6.4M for 120 new police recruits.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania isn’t slated to release its budget for another five days, and that could throw off Nutter’s swagger. He says the state could eliminate $149 million from his budget, but that he won’t account for it until it’s official.  For now, Nutter made some necessary cuts without pissing off too many people while keeping services intact, although not everyone was pleased. Education could be hit hard after Corbett releases his budget, which Councilperson Frank Rizzo says Nutter should anticipate.

“It’s not a realistic budget, knowing the problems in Harrisburg,” Rizzo told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “This budget isn’t possible without state and federal funding, especially when you talk about the schools.”

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Men in black: Nutter and his staff go over his budget before entering Chambers.

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“We took our hits. We did what we had to do. We’re fighting our way back. We’re getting things done. Philly, we’re on the rise.  Let’s get to work.” — Mayor Nutter.

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It was a full house in City Hall’s Chambers today.

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Mayor Nutter began his budget address by congratulating City Council President Anna Verna for her service to the city (did someone hear him mutter under his breath he’s happy as hell he’ll no longer be working with her after she soon retires!?).

the Mayor’s budget will have some room to pump money into a few services, like a new police class. It also budgeted $4 million for snow removal, which is funding that the city had previously relied on from the state.

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