Nutter looks back on first year

December 23, 2008 8:37:04 PM PST
High expectations in the beginning crashed head-on with a national recession in Mayor Michael Nutter's first year, forcing him to slash Philadelphia city jobs and services.One of those expectations: To make Philadelphia safe. Nutter set an ambitious goal of cutting the city's murder rate by 25%. While the numbers are down, that goal was missed.

However, the mayor wants to keep pushing ahead, working to a 50% to 75% drop in the coming years, to match cities like New York and Boston.

"I want Philadelphia to be in ranks of big cities in America that are considered the top safe cities in America. That is our goal," Mayor Nutter said.

On the financial front, the mayor has felt intense heat after announcing the need to close 11 libraries and deactivate seven fire units in the coming days to balance the budget.

He says he understands the anger, and is not happy with the solutions.

But should the economy continue to falter, Nutter says he could be back in early 2009 with more cuts.

"I can't tell you what the future will bring. I do know there has been further deterioration, there very well could be further cuts," Nutter said.

Some have criticized Nutter with spending two million dollars on Philadelphia's 311 call center and a related management system while shuttering libraries.

Proponents say 311 will simplifiy getting city services, make bureaurcrats more accountable and eventually save the city millions of dollars per year.

The idea with 311 is that anyone can call about a problem, such as getting a pothole fixed or an abandoned house boarded up, without having to know someone inside the city or navigate the bureaucracy.

"This system, it is my belief, will more than pay for itself not only in dollars but service delivery," said Mayor Nutter.


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