Mayor Michael Nutter delivers 2015 spending plan in silence
Mayor Michael Nutter delivered his $4.5 billion spending plan for 2015 on Thursday morning in City Council Chambers, which in itself was an accomplishment.
At last year’s address local union members booed, hissed and yelled when Nutter took to the microphone to unveil his 2014 spending plan. Nutter eventually left council chambers mid-speech.
Previous reports indicated that for this year’s event union members were not permitted to enter council chambers unless previously invited. Some were eventually allowed in to the upstairs balcony, but were told to keep it peaceful or they would be tossed out. And visitors were told to leave their signs at the door.
Nutter’s budget forecasted no tax increases and set aside funding for future union negotiations. But other than new L&I employees and extension of the Free Library’s weekly schedule no major new initiatives were introduced.
Nutter said he was satisfied that the white collar city workers union, District Council 47, accepted a new contract Wednesday night for its roughly 3,600 workers. The 8-year is deal is worth $122 million.
And he asked the blue-collar union, DC 33, which represents close to 9,000 workers, to work with him to reach a deal.
Members of DC 33 started protesting outside City Hall Thursday hours before Nutter was slated to speak and protested the mayor’s elusiveness in negotiations.
Nutter said he set aside $44.3 million for potential obligations with DC33, Local 22 Firefighters, Lodge 5 Police union and DC 45 for 2015.
The main hurdles between the unions seems to be healthcare and pensions costs and work rules.
Nutter was proud of the conditional deal to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works to UIL Holdings Corp. for $1.86 billion.
After paying off dues and debts, the city hopes to be left with about $700 million, between $420 million and $630 million will go toward paying off the city’s bloated pension fund, which currently stands at more than $5 billion.
The sale of PGW still faces a monumental task: clearing City Council. Many council members were non-committal in regards to if or when the legislative body would approve the sale.
Nutter said he expected this pushback.
$2.5 million for the Free Library
The mayor called for a re-instatement of the six-day-a-week schedule for the Free Library of Philadelphia. An additional $200,000 will buy more books.
$2 million for L&I
The Department of Licenses and Inspections will receive 31 new inspectors and supportive staff.
$500,000 to CCP
To help offset tuition increases.
The schools asked for $75 million in recurring funds to fund district-managed and charter schools. Nutter has assumed that Harrisburg will approve his $2-a-pack cigarette tax. It was already approved by City Council, but it requires state approval. Nutter said it would generate $83 million in education funding assuming a July 1 start date. As smoking rates inevitably decline, Nutter still expects the tax to raise at least $70 million.
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