City Council approves bill transferring $50M to Philly schools
City Council on Thursday unanimously passed a bill transferring $50 million from the city grants revenue fund to the general fund as part of a plan to give city schools much-needed funding in exchange for surplus properties.
Under that proposal, introduced in August by Council President Darrell Clarke, the city would purchase from the School District of Philadelphia 24 shuttered properties in exchange for a $50 million up-front payment, then resell the properties to recoup the costs.
The legislation will next head to the desk of Mayor Michael Nutter, whose administration has in the past expressed opposition to the surplus property sales plan.
The administration has instead promoted an alternative school funding plan outlined by the state that calls for the city to borrow the $50 million against future revenue from a 1 percent city sales tax hike, which was originally set to expire in June.
Nutter’s press secretary Mark McDonald on Thursday would not say whether the mayor planned to sign the measure.
“The administration looks forward to continue working with City Council to fulfill our pledge to get $50 million to the School District of Philadelphia,” McDonald said, declining to provide any more specific information regarding how that $50 million infusion would be achieved.
He noted the legislation passed Thursday was simply a transfer of monies from one category of the city’s budget to another, and that the surplus property sales plan wouldn’t become effective until there was an agreement reached between the city and school district.
If Nutter were to veto the $50 million transfer, Council would likely have the 12 votes needed to override his decision.
Even so, Nutter is not bound under the ordinance to actually appropriate to the school district the $50 million earmarked by Council.