By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter says he is still uncertain whether his final budget, to be made public next week, will include a specific formula for raising an extra $100 million to help solve the latest financial woes of the School District.
Mayor Nutter presents his eighth and final budget one week from Thursday — and the key questions are whether and how he will respond to the latest hat-in-hand request from the School District.
“Their request is $103 million of new money from the city,” says Nutter.
Because of that request, Nutter says his budget proposal remains unsettled: “What we’re trying to figure out right now is how to properly and in a sustainable fashion respond to the $103 million request. What would it be, what form would it come in, and do we in fact include that in the budget that gets submitted.”
So its unclear if the spending plan Nutter unveils on March 5th will propose a specific method for raising that money for the schools, or if he’ll wait to hash it out with City Council over the ensuing four months. But with the clock ticking, Nutter says discussions on solving the $103 million ‘ask’ are already underway.
“We have not figured that out,” says Nutter. “And I know where we are calendar-wise. But there are a series of conversations and discussions taking place between myself, the Council President (Darrell Clarke), members of City Council, Superintendent Hite, the SRC and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
Options for the city to help fill the district’s gap are, as ever, limited and unsavory, most likely centering on tax increases, cuts to city services, or some combination of both. The District has also asked for more than $200 million from the state.
Nutter is resolute that the requests need to be settled quickly: “The Governor’s budget address is on Tuesday, the 3rd. My budget address is on Thursday, the 5th. So all of this to some extent will be happening in real-time. We’re at a point where we need to address the budgetary request from the School District as early on as possible (and) identify those resources. We will collectively try to figure out how to do that. But there’s no question that the need is great.”
The District’s projected deficit for the 2015-16 school year is about $80 million. But Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission have made the higher requests to the mayor and governor to pay for Hite’s plan for academic improvements.
They are also seeking $50 million in labor concessions.