What Does Mayor Nutter’s Final Budget Hold?
Details of Mayor Nutter’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-17 began to come out today.
Total expected revenues are expected to be $3.85 billion while total expected expenditures are $3.95 billion, which is a 2.3 percent increase from last year. The overview document that was presented to City Council noted that the city “is implementing a new budgeting system which will replace the more than 2,000 Excel spreadsheets that the city currently uses for its budget.” Bad news for Microsoft, but you know there are dozens, if not hundreds, of workers in City Hall right now who are crying tears of joy. ($29.4 million is budgeted for the Office of Innovation and Technology, so maybe next year they’ll move up from WordPerfect, too.)
Anyway. The big question is: What would Nutter have the city spend these billions on, and why? Let’s break it down:
The proposal calls for $5.5 million to begin the three-year phase-in process to “strengthen” the Department of Licenses and Inspections. This investment comes in the wake of the building collapse at 22nd and Market and an agency investigation by an independent advisory commission.
The city would give the Police Department $500,000 to begin implementing the use of body cameras, and an additional $3.1 million for “ballistic vests, tasers, and ammunition for additional training exercises.” It’s worth noting that Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is on Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which did not endorse body cameras on officers.
In the capital budget, there are some significant neighborhood investment proposals that will be greeted with relief, such as the $20 million allocated for paving streets.
Five million dollars would go toward neighborhood improvement to curbs, sidewalks, lighting, parking and landscaping, just in time for the Pope and the DNC. Other projects seeing multimillion-dollar investments: the Comcast Tower 2.0 (specifically extending the underground concourse to link with it), East Market, and the University City area.
And remember when Nutter was at war with libraries? For the third year in a row, funding to libraries would go up, with $1.5 million going to improve various branch facilities. And speaking of facilities, City Hall, the Municipal Services Building, and other city facilities would get spruced up, while the Prisons Department would get $4.9 million to buy land for a replacement House of Corrections.
Other sources are reporting a 9 percent or so increase in property tax, but there’s no mention of that in the overview document, so it’s unclear if that is an increase in the tax rate or a reflection of what is described in the document as a “moderate tax base growth.”
Nutter will present his annual — and final — budget address on Thursday at 10 a.m. at City Hall’s Room 400. The proposed budget then undergoes hearings in City Council.
Additional reporting by Holly Otterbein.