Parkwood Civic Association President Mike Hatala got right down to business at last night’s meeting, leading with the Pledge of Allegiance, then calling up the group’s guest: incumbent Democratic city controller candidate Alan Butkovitz.
Butkovitz will face off against Republican candidate Al Schmidt in the Nov. 3 election. The Democrat first addressed what he said have been the three focal points of his past year as city controller:
- spending time looking at failures in service
- emphasizing money and viability as an important role in the city’s collection of funds
- being an independent voice in analyzing Mayor Nutter’s budget and financial plans
Continue reading for a recap of the rest of meeting, more from Butkovitz and a numerical break down of the city’s finances.
Butkovitz told those in attendance (relatively small crowd of 20, compared to the usual 75 or so, as a result of a scheduling conflict with the 8th District PDAC) that he is “not into making pretend,” that his focus has been reality – a reality that involves a billion-dollar city deficit and dwindling economy.
By the numbers
Incumbent Democratic candidate for city controller Alan Butkovitz gave Parkwood residents many numbers to consider at last night’s civic meeting.
-The city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections “responds to as few as 14 percent of calls.”
-Approximately 170 city employees owe Philadelphia money.
-By withholding portions of indebted city employees’ paychecks, Butkovitz expects to collect $4.8 million for Philadelphia in one year.
-One-fourth of Philadelphia’s 400,000 houses are behind in property taxes.
-Only 12 percent of Philadelphia voters will vote in the Nov. 3 election.
The city does a dismal job, Butkovitz said, at making collections, and agencies like L&I, which he said responds to as few as 14 percent of calls, bear some of the blame.
The candidate’s answer to this problem is to begin withholding portions of paychecks from the 169 city employees who owe Philadelphia money. Though Butkovitz said this measure has been legal since 1937, no candidate has ever acted upon it. The financial crisis is “critcal,” he said, and “more than 50 percent of Philadelphia’s tax deadbeats have the highest salaries in the city.”
When Northeast Times reporter John Loftus asked the candidate how much money he expects to collect on Nov. 6, the first day paychecks will be deducted, Butkovitz said: “I don’t have an exact answer, but the majority of the outstanding $4.8 million [owed to Philadelphia by its employees] will be collected in one year.”
Butkovitz said city employees are being offered a deal: pay back what they owe in full, with half the interest and no penalty fees, which typically run 25 percent per year. “The point is to get money,” he said, “not a long-term payment plan.
The candidate then faced heated questions from Parkwood residents about why the employee repayment policy has taken so long to be enacted, to which Butkovitz explained the measure is a response to the city’s abysmal financial situation.
And when residents voiced opinions about the Far Northeast being among Philadelphia’s most responsible tax payers, the incumbent said a “shockingly large number” of Northeast residents have delinquent taxes.
Butkovitz encouraged the crowd to vote in the Nov. 3 election, which will likely see only about 12 percent of the city’s voters.
Also at last night’s meeting…the neighborhood banners are nearly ready, with much credit given to John Del Ricci of Councilman James Kenney’s office, who secured the permits…Parkwood Town Watch is in need of volunteers…Junod playground at Mechanicsville and Dunks Ferry roads needs a new fence…residents dislike the new barriers around the woods near Medford and Vinton roads, which the Fairmount Park System installed in an attempt to keep out ATV riders. The barriers, they say, are unattractive, and do not keep riders out of the woods…lucky number 025373 won $23 in the 50/50 raffle, which he then returned to the Parkwood Civic Association…the next meeting will be Nov. 11.