By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the fine print of Mayor Nutter’s proposed budget is an idea whose time has belatedly come to Philadelphia City Hall: having workers do preventative maintenance on police and fire stations.

Most maintenance of Philadelphia government buildings is now reactive; repair crews rush to correct problems as they crop up and spend little if any time preventing them. But, Mayor Nutter’s budget calls for hiring 16 new workers to be devoted exclusively to improving buildings before problems appear.

“We plan to expand our maintenance operation to do preventative maintenance, to get out of the reactive cycle — and we think it’s going to a big success,” says Deputy Public Property Commissioner Joe Palantino.

Palantino says if City Council approves the new hiring, he expects modest net savings in the coming year on the order of $100,000.

“The 16 (new hires) can make a dramatic difference for us.”

The workers will initially focus on police and fire stations, which he says average 55-year in age and sorely need this pro-active approach.

“You’re maintaining things to live out their life.”

Currently only 10-percent of all maintenance done on city government buildings is preventative.  Palantino says that compares to about 45-percent in private industry.

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