By Pat Loeb

 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It won’t be nearly as bold as last year, but Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Thursday will present a budget to City Council that proposes some new projects and services while reducing taxes.

The $4.4-billion spending plan is slightly larger than last year but budget director Anna Adams says it continues a reduction in the wage tax, bringing it under 3.9% for residents and under 3.5% for non-residents.

“Our rates are now lower than they were since 1971 and we hope that makes Philadelphia a little bit more competitive,” Adams said.

Improving economic opportunities is one theme of the budget, with increased spending for ex-offender hiring subsidies, workforce development and investments such as $174-million for street resurfacing, which deputy managing director Mike Carroll says also improves the quality of life in the city.

“We find that that is a benefit for folks in neighborhoods and commercial areas,” Carroll said.

The budget also calls for hiring more paramedics and firefighters and buying more fire department vehicles.

The increases come despite uncertainty at the state and federal level, but finance director Rob Dubow says while the city continues to monitor possible impacts, he believes the budget is sound.

“There’s no ‘plan B’ because we don’t know what the state or federal actions would actually mean,” he said.

One note of caution, the city is holding beverage tax revenue in reserve instead of moving ahead with more pre-K expansion until a legal challenge to the tax is resolved.