City Services May Stay Open–For a Price

A "penny with a purpose."

That's what Mayor Michael Nutter called his proposal to raise the city's sales tax by one percent, temporarily.

Nutter has been out in front this week with two budget solutions that will likely impact you the most:  property tax hikes up to 19-percent and now a sales tax hike. Both, he says will be temporary and that the timeframes will be written into law. The sales tax hike he says could save local libraries and keep other essential services at current levels.

According to Mayor Nutter, the sales tax hike would save:

  • All 150 recreation facilities with no reduction in operating hours
  • All after school programming
  • Summer camp programs
  • All services for abused or neglected children
  • All libraries with no reduction in funding
  • All emergency and transition housing for the homeless, as well as add 700 additional slots for people and families on the street
  • All eight community health centers with maternal, family and child healthcare maintained.  A "modest" fee would be charged for some services, Nutter said.

With city money and the Splash fund, 46 outdoor pools will open for the summer, as well as four indoor pools, he added.

Right now the city is sitting on a one billion dollar budget deficit that Nutter wants the city to solve within five years. He revealed his initial plan on how that could be done back in November. As part of his "A Call for Shared Sacrifice" budget blueprint, the mayor and key city staffers took pay cuts (the mayor's pay cut was $18,000). Deep cuts were also made that closed five engines and two fire companies earlier this year.

In the last couple of weeks, Nutter has made several budget-related announcements:

He quashed talk of a trash fee because of the citizen backlash.

He asked up to 500 city staffers to give back their city-issued cars. Most will be auctioned off to raise money and the city will save up to $1.5 million a year in gas and maintenance costs.

He also asked Council members to consider turning in their city-issued cars.

Nutter makes his formal budget proposal to City Council on Thursday. It's probably fair to say it'll be the biggest speech of his career.

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