Mayor Nutter: Major cuts, layoffs nearing

PHILADELPHIA - September 9, 2009

Warning signs are now showing up in advance of a potential financial calamity.

Beginning Thursday, the city will be posting signs at all rec centers and at its 54 libraries alterting patrons that it's possible both systems will shut down 23 days from now if the city is forced to lay off workers.

"Every library will be shut down, every rec center will be shut down," said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Michael DiBerardini

Thousands of people use Philadelphia's libraries and rec centers. For as little as 50 dollars per week parents can enroll their kids in a supervised after school program.

However, if there is an October 2nd shutdown, parents will have to scramble to find alternate sites. Rec center staffers worry most alternative programs will have waiting lists leaving kids on their own if there is a shutdown.

"We are about to let our young people roam free on the streets being idle with nothing to do, no constructive activities. We're creating mayhem," said Commissioner of Recreation Susan Slawson.

A so-called "Plan C" shutdown will bering other pain. Trash pick-up would be cut from weekly to every other week, and 900 of the most recently hired olice officers would be laid off.

"The very districts that are responsible for the majority of crime in '07 will have the greatest loss of personnel," said Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Philadelphia is facing a $1.4 billion five-year budget deficit.

The city has asked the state to approve a temporary sales tax increase in Philadelphia and allow changes to how the city makes its pension payments. But those requests are languishing in the Legislature.

Lawmakers set to meet again on Thursday.

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