At Philadelphia City Hall,Tug-of-War Over Filling School District’s Budget Gap
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By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Philadelphia City Council members are wondering if Mayor Nutter is passing the buck by supporting an extra $60 million for the school district without proposing how the city would come up with the cash (see related story).
Today, City Council president Darrell Clarke and others on Council questioned the mayor’s finance director, Rob Dubow, over whether the mayor himself will present a plan to raise the extra $60 million for the school district, or whether that political hot potato will fall in the lap of Council.
(Dubow:) “In order to support additional funding for the district, we would have to figure out where that would come from, and we would have to work with Council on that process.”
(Clarke:) “You’re saying we would have to figure that out? So the administration, that’s not their responsibility?”
(Dubow:) “What I said is, what we would want to do is go through a process with Council where we would figure that out.”
(Clarke:) “Yeah, but the administration said proactively yesterday that they support the $60 million. So I would think that it was the responsibility of the administration to come up with a proposal for the $60 million — not the responsibility of City Council.”
The mayor’s budget proposal at this point contains no extra money for the district, so the additional school district funding would presumably come from either reductions in other services or a tax increase. Also pursuing that point were at-large councilmembers Wilson Goode, Bill Greenlee, and Jim Kenney.
Kenney wondered why the Nutter administration says it did not know of the $60 million “ask” until the day before it became public (see related story).
“It’s really bad communication, or we’re not being told the truth,” Kenney told Dubow. “Either one is pretty bad. And going through the number of budgets we’ve been through, sixty million dollars is coming from where? It’s not coming from cuts, because you’re spending more money than last year, or you propose to. So it’s coming from (higher) taxes, or it’s coming from something else, and I don’t know what that ‘else’ could be.”
The task of finding that cash while at the same time overhauling the property tax system will likely occupy Nutter and Council from now until the new budget is due, in June.