By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter today outlined some of his priorities for the upcoming year before more than 1,400 business leaders in an address to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
In his sixth appearance before the Chamber, Nutter told the group that as the recession receded in the last year, his administration moved forward with several initiatives to prepare the city for future successes.
Those initiatives include a $6-million “Seed Fund” to make early investments in Philadelphia-based tech startups, and $500,000 over three years to support entrepreneurs.
Nutter also promises to restart annual incremental wage tax reductions, which were halted in the dark days of the recession.
Since 2009, he says, his administration has reduced city spending by $118 million a year, and they’ve lowered the city employee headcount, primarily through attrition.
Meanwhile, Nutter said, they’re scouring city government to find greater efficiencies. He says that FTI, a global business consultant, concluded the city could capture an additional $85 million over the next five years.
“One of FTI’s key idea aims was helping us improve our performance in collecting revenue already owed the city,” he said.
Those revenues include the Streets Department’s commercial trash fee, which now has only a 55-percent payment rate.
Likewise, the payment rate is only 13 percent for the fire department’s transports of patients to hospitals by emergency medical service personnel. The industry benchmark for EMS transports is in the range of 45 to 60 percent.
The mayor’s proposed budget, coming in mid-March, will include a proposed property tax rate, along with relief measures for Philadelphians coping with the tax implications of their new assessments.
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