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Next Phila. Budget To Target Demolition Safety, Libraries, Union Contracts

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File Photo (Credit: Alex Wong/ Getty Images)

File Photo (Credit: Alex Wong/ Getty Images)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — More demolition inspectors and more weekend service at city libraries are among the highlights of Mayor Nutter’s next budget, which he will unveil tomorrow.

According to a budget overview obtained by KYW Newsradio, Mayor Nutter wants to beef up the ranks of the Department of Licenses and Inspection, apparently prompted by the Market Street building collapse of last June (see related story).

His new budget will propose an extra $2 million to hire what one source says will be at least two dozen new inspectors, to “strengthen demolition controls to ensure safe public and private demolitions.”

Nutter also is setting aside an extra $2.5 million for six-day service at all library branches.  According to the overview, most branches now off only five-day service.

With a view to the still-unsettled contract with District Council 33, the largest municipal workers’ union, Nutter is setting aside $375 million over five years for added labor costs.  That, according to the budget synopsis, is $280 million more than in last year’s five-year plan.

The cost of the just-settled contract with District Council 47 was put at $122 million over five years (see related story), so some of the remaining $250 million presumably could be used for a settlement with DC33.  The money would also go toward labor costs associated with the city’s police and fire services, among others.

Those contract talks resumed last month for the first time in a year (see related story).   DC 33 members are vowing to show up at the budget address tomorrow morning to voice their displeasure with the talks, which have dragged on since 2009 (see related story).

Overall, the mayor’s new budget projects moderate growth in tax revenues.  But the administration is projecting that revenues will decline $113 million because of the expiration of the temporary, penny-on-the-dollar city sales tax hike, as well as wage and business tax reforms.

The state last year authorized the city to make that sales tax hike permanent, with the money earmarked for the city schools.  City Council opted not to do so, though that options remains and will be part of the budget debate going forward this spring.

The budget debate will also revolve around the still-to-be-determined needs of the School District, and over the mayor’s desire to sell PGW (see related story).

Nutter is calling for expenditures of only about $47 million above last year. Two-thirds of that amount is due to rising pension and debt service costs.

Other new expenditures in the proposed budget:

  • Nearly $2 million for the Office of Property Assessment to beef up its staff;
  • More than $1 million so sheriff Jewell Williams can hire more deputies for the new Family Court building;
  • $2 million more for the city to replaced what the overview calls “aged and unreliable vehicles” in the police department and other departments;
  • $3.3 million for technology upgrades, half of which is for an upgrade of the city’s data center.
  • Community College of Philadelphia, the Mann Music Center, and the Department of Parks and Recreation will each receive an additional half-million dollars in funding above current levels.

Mayor Nutter’s budget address is scheduled for Thursday morning at 11am.  Stay tuned to KYW Newsradio, CBSPhilly.com, and CBS-3 for updates.

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