Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter plans to inject millions of dollars into several city departments in 2015, including hiring more staff to focus on demolitions and inspections across the city.
More importantly, he made it clear that the budget comes with no increase in taxes.
"The budget proposed no tax increases for the city's General Fund," said Mayor Nutter. "Let me repeat that, there are no tax increases for the general fund in our city budget proposal."
The mayor outlined his budget proposal Thursday morning before city council inside City Hall while unions protested outside.
In the address, Nutter pushed for $2 million in additional dollars for the Department of Licenses & Inspections. With that money, the department would hire 31 new employees to focus on demolitions and inspections in the wake of the building collapse on Market Street last June.
The mayor is also proposing a $2.5 million increase to the Free Library of Philadelphia's budget. This would allow 39 city libraries to open on Saturdays.
He also pushed for $15 million for the Departments of Parks and Recreation to fund improvements to city facilities and $16 million for the Streets Department for new pavement in neighborhoods throughout the city.
Unlike last year where the address was open to the public, access to council chambers was limited.
In an email to councilmembers and their staff, Council President Darrell Clarke warned "only persons on the official list will be granted access to council chambers during the mayor's budget address."
Last year, Nutter had to suspend his 2014 budget address after union members, upset over drawn out collective bargaining talks, staged a protest in the council chambers during the speech. They used whistles and shouting to drown out the mayor. The address had to be suspended and moved to a private room.
Nutter recently signed an agreement with the city's white collar union, District Council 47. However, officials are still negotiating with the blue collar union, District Council 33.
"I have said many times that I want contracts with all of our municipal unions -- and I know City Council feels the same way," said Nutter. "...But the agreements in my view have to be fair both to the financial interests of our citizens and our public servants."
The Mayor continued his address by announcing his plan to set aside more than $44.3 million for future labor contract agreements.
"I am hopeful that all of our union leaders understand that my Administration wants fair multi-year contracts with all of our union employees. But fair contracts must include work rule changes, healthcare cost savings and most importantly, pension reform."
Nutter's hopefulness for union negotiations also carried into his hopefulness that the general assembly will authorize a $2-per-pack cigarette tax, one that has already been approved by City Council.
The cigarette tax, Nutter says, will help meet the school district's latest request for $75 million in city funds.