Budget deal cuts Philadelphia police funding while increasing spending on housing and education

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council and Mayor Jim Kenney reached a deal on a budget for the 2021 fiscal year late Wednesday night.

City Council gave its preliminary approval to the $4.9 billion budget, which could reduce funding to the Philadelphia Police Department by $33 million.

The new budget will also help implement reforms inside and outside of the department, including body cameras for police officers, implicit bias training for police and an equity manager for the department.

The city had originally projected a $649 million shortfall because of reduced income and spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected more than 24,000 residents. That number grew to a projected $749 million shortfall.

"It is extremely disappointing that at this time we are not able to move forward with some of the crucial investments I proposed back in March, before the pandemic and resulting economic downtown were felt in Philadelphia. And it pains me that this budget reduces some City services and eliminates hundreds of jobs," said Mayor Jim Kenney.

Roughly $25 million of the proposed budget will address healthcare needs, healthier food options, affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, job training and other measures.

The proposed budget will also fund $1.35 million for the arts in Philadelphia.

"The lack of access to affordable housing, health care, living-wage jobs and healthy foods has been exposed by these crises - along with many problems. We cannot go back to that old normal," Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. "We need to create a 'New Normal' and address these disparities head-on. I believe this budget is an important start toward doing that."

The budget includes an increase in Non-Resident Wage and Net Profit Tax to 3.5019%, an increase to the Parking Tax from 22.5% to 25%, and a pension bond debt restructuring that will generate savings of about $80 million, according to the budget package.

"In short, thanks to Council's leadership, I believe this budget will accomplish the goal I laid out on May 1: we will keep all Philadelphians safe, healthy, and educated while maintaining core municipal services that our residents rely on daily. Just as importantly, the most difficult decisions were made through a lens of racial equity. The budget intentionally limits the impact of service delays or cuts on people of color, who are disproportionately impacted by the virus and already suffering from decades of systemic inequality," said Kenney.

The mayor thanked members of city council for reaching the deal and said this was the most difficult budget process he's experienced.

The budget could get final approved by city council on June 25.

Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby released the following statement regarding the city's proposed budget Tuesday morning:

"Once again, our city leadership has turned its back on the residents and police department of this great city. Cutting $33 million from the police department is both reckless and irresponsible under the guise of police reform.

This spending plan will devastate any efforts by the police department to engage and fund numerous community outreach programs. Our political leadership is tone deaf and blind to the realities of public safety in our city by implementing these drastic budget cuts.

We look forward to the day of responsible budgeting and reform that will best serve all the residents of Philadelphia."


Read more on the budget proposal HERE.

Below is a breakdown of the highlights of the city's preliminary 2021 budget:

POLICE

  • The deal calls for a $33.3 million cut in funding to the proposed Philadelphia Police Department budget, which would bring it approximately 4% below funding for the current year.

  • The mayor agreed to eliminate the proposed $19 million increase. An additional $14 million was cut from the police budget by transferring funding for crossing guards and public safety enforcement officers to the Managing Director's Office.

  • The reduction in spending also calls for reforms within the department that include: Body cameras for officers, bias training, engaging mental health professionals for police-assisted diversion and an equity manager for the police force.

  • In addition, $400,000 will be spent to create a police oversight commission, and additional funds for public defenders.


FIRE

  • The Philadelphia Fire Department will have its proposed budget cut by $5.8 million, bringing the department's budget to this year's level.


TAX INCREASES

  • The wage tax for non-residents will increase to 3.5019% for a one year period, and will not seek a reduction in wage taxes for residents.The city says that increase would come to about $1 per paycheck for someone making $50,000/year.

  • The parking tax will rise from 22.5% to 25% for one year.

  • A committee will be created with the goal of reducing the city's parking tax to 17% in 2022.


INCREASED SPENDING

  • The proposed budget does call for spending increases.

  • The 'New Normal Budget Act' would set aside $25M to address disparities that came to the forefront during the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd. City officials want to use that money for health care, affordable housing, anti-poverty efforts, job training and more.

  • $20 million would be invested into the 'Housing Trust Fund.'

  • $1.45 million would be set aside for adult education.

  • $1.35 million that was slated for elimination would be restored to the city's Cultural Fund and African-American Museum.

  • $825,000 in funding would be earmarked for criminal justice reform, specifically for re-entry services.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.