Tempers flare at council meeting - Philadelphia News

November 19, 2008 3:57:59 PM PST
The budget battle has officially begun over Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's plan to save the city one billion dollars over five years. Today, council held its first public hearing on the matter.They can feel the public heat at city council, where one freshman member was blasting the mayor claiming he's not properly informing them on how these gut-wrenching decisions were made.

"This attitude not only evidences disrespect for a coequal branch of government that effectively undermines a key vehicle of citizen input into the budget process," Bill Green (D) of the Philadelphia City Council said.

Some council members were on the attack about the mayor's plan to eliminate five engines and two ladder companies.

"We're not talking about some buildings being closed or some engines not being used, this could have a direct effect on the safety of a lot of people in those neighborhoods," Jack Kelly, Jr. (R) of the Philadelphia City Council said.

The business community came to complain about the mayor's plan to freeze business tax reductions.

"The city's tax reduction program has been responsible for saving tens of thousands of jobs that we would have otherwise lost had we not made the slow and steady progress towards becoming competitive," Robert Padula, a business owner, said.

This hearing was actually the council's first chance to vote on budget related measures including the tax cut freeze and fee increases.

"These cuts are painful and they're horrible, but what we're discussing here today are not the cuts, they are the revenue enhancements that will soften the cuts and keep us from having to make further cuts," Jim Kenney (D) of the Philadelphia City Council said.

Late today, by wide margins, the council committee approved the budget measures Mayor Nutter was required by law to send over. The fact is, the council does not have much influence over this entire process.

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