Philadelphia (CBS) – City Controller Alan Butkovitz called on the Mayor’s Fund of Philadelphia, an account funded primarily with profits from the Philadelphia Marathon and typically used for grants and charitable donations, to demand the return of over $240,000 of expenditures from the final year of former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s second term.
Butkovitz alleged in an interview with Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 that Nutter and members of his staff used the fund inappropriately on meals, transportation and on the mayor’s trip to Italy in 2015 without providing proper documentation for the spending.
“Anybody who’s got a credit with business has to turn in a detailed receipt in order to get reimbursed. That’s the normal city procedure. If I travel anywhere, I have to attach receipts in order to get reimbursed. By using the procedure in this fund, Mayor Nutter and his top officials were able to avoid the usual scrutiny and checks and balances of having their expenses reviewed by the finance department, the controller’s office and the treasurer’s office. Basically, they wrote themselves a check for whatever they wanted and it wasn’t second guessed… It looks like it was used well beyond the scope of the mission of the fund for Philadelphia.”
He acknowledged current Mayor Jim Kenney is aware of the discrepancies and open to making changes regarding the type of access city officials have with the fund.
“We did talk to the mayor yesterday and he was generally in agreement with our recommendations and some of our ideas regarding strengthening the board structure in the fund and putting in restrictions on the amounts under these credit cards and maybe restricting the number of cards. He certainly shares our viewpoint that these funds are reserved for needy causes in Philadelphia and they’re not just supposed to be used to supplement discretionary or party events on behalf of city officials or the mayor.”
Butkovitz lamented that giving officials broad access to an account such as this without strict oversight can lead to abuse.
“That’s one of the issues public officials face all the time. They got to remember that they’re not royalty here and that you’ve got to live on a human type scale and if it’s free money that is unaccountable, there’s no reason not to go deluxe. The real problem is that’s taking money away from much more urgent needs.”