$65 million question forgotten in Philly

PHILADELPHIA - October 6, 2009 A ballot question should have been included on the November 3rd ballot in Philadelphia that would have asked the voters to approve funding for dozens of projects.

They include repaving roads in Fairmount Park, rec center renovations, exterior repairs to city hall, a new fire alarm system for the prisons, and a new fire house at this intersection in the Northeast.

Now it's too late.

The city's law department never got the question to the folks who run the elections.

"To take something off, it's easy. We've done it, right up to election day. To put something on? That's a whole different ball game. Can't do it," said Deputy City Commissioner Fred Voigt.

It's not clear who's to blame. The ballot question was approved on Sept. 17 by City Council and signed by Mayor Michael Nutter.

Both City Council and the administration are responsible for getting an approved referendum on the ballot.

They're not pointing fingers, and they're not accepting the blame.

"There's no need for a whole lot of finger pointing and back-and-forth. Everyone has a role to play We need to make sure it's well-coordinated, that it will be on the ballot, my expecation is in May, and we'll take it from there," said Mayor Nutter.

City Council president Anna Verna is calling the incident an unfortunate communications error. Mayor Nutter is downplaying the impact, promising that no one will suffer.

"I think there are no projects that are at risk. We have a very large capital budget. Things will be fine," he said.

The Philadelphia Zoo, for example, was counting on money for a new roof on one of its animal houses. It's just one of the many projects that may have to wait.

It will be at least six months before the referendum can find its way back on to a ballot.

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