By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The 2009 one-percent hike in the Philadelphia sales tax was supposed to be temporary, but it’s now permanent as part of the state’s solution to the school district cash crisis.
City Council President Darrell Clarke, though, thinks some of that money should go to prop up the city worker pension fund.
For months all eyes have been focused on the whopping deficits facing the school district, but Council President Darrell Clarke is also worried about the pension fund of city workers, which is sorely underfunded.
“If we don’t fix our local pension problem, we’re going to be looking at a ‘School District of Philadelphia’ type of (financial) scenario for the city of Philadelphia,” he explained.
Right now the city is using general fund dollars to meet its minimum obligation payments to the pension fund.
Clarke is now floating a plan that would devote about half of the now permanent city sales tax hike to the fund, with the rest going to the schools.
That’s about $70 million a year for the fund, but a big hurdle is still in place; any such change would require approval of the state legislature and governor.