City Council Starts New Year Today

Fresh start, same-old issues

The Inquirer reports that the City Council reconvenes today after its winter break, ready to seek a funding solution for Philadelphia schools that doesn’t involve lst minute appeals to the public.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke predicted that this year would be different.

“Whatever we come up with, it has to be a long-term solution,” he said. “I’m really opposed to this kind of crisis management.”

The surest way to prevent another eleventh-hour scramble for school dollars would be to extend the city’s extra 1 percent sales tax and devote most of the money raised to the schools.

State lawmakers, who had to give the city permission to continue charging a higher sales tax than the rest of the state, laid out that plan last spring, but Clarke called it a “bad deal.”

He would rather split the extra 1 percent sales tax – expected to generate more than $140 million this year – evenly between the schools and the underfunded pension system for city employees.

Other issues: Settling a longtime standoff with city municipal unions, resolving whether Philadelphia Gas Works shuld be sold to a private buyer, and completion of a deal to sell the city-owned parking garage beneath LOVE Park.