By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Aides to Mayor Nutter on Thursday spelled out a long list of cuts, including layoffs, that they say would be needed if the city loses its appeal of an arbitrator’s award to firefighters. This move then prompted a state agency to delay its vote on Nutter’s long-range budget.
Members of the PICA board were unhappy that Nutter’s five-year plan did not reflect the cost of a recent arbitration award to firefighters, and some members indicated they might reject the plan as a result.
But hours before the scheduled vote, the mayor submitted an addendum spelling out what cuts might be needed if the mayor’s latest appeal of the award is not successful. So PICA Chairman Sam Katz said the vote would be delayed until next month while the new material is studied.
“We have to now dig in to what’s been submitted,” said Katz. “And determine whether it meets the reasonableness test that caused us in the first round with zeroes.”
The potential cuts included reductions of firefighters, librarians and other workers. But the mayor’s Finance Director, Rob Dubow, stressed that these are speculative.
“What we actually do would probably depend on when the award became final,” Dubow said. “And what other things had happened, because it’s not final now.”
One PICA board member, Sam Hopkins, derided the list of potential cuts as “a political scare technique.” Dubow, though, insists the reductions will not be necessary if the mayor is successful in appealing the firefighters’ award.
Bill Gault, head of the firefighters union Local 22, blasted the mayor for delaying the raises.
“It seems to me that this administration is very vindictive,” Gault said. “And what they’ve decided to do is keep stalling this, and stalling this.”
Katz, the PICA chair, said the state agency has until August 27 to render a vote, though he expects the vote now to come within a week or two.
A rejection by the PICA board of the five-year plan could forestall the release to the city of wage tax revenues collected by the state.