Welcome to the working week, Streeters. Today we’ll see spring showers as April packs up and heads for the door.
Today the School District of Philadelphia is expected to request an additional $60 million from City Council to help close its budget gap, but so far no one in the mayor’s administration has said where that money will come from. The Inquirer reports that if the School District’s $300 million deficit is not overcome, 3,000 employees could be laid off and school sports, libraries, counseling, and summer school could be cut. A bill proposed by Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez could raise some money for the School District by raising the use and occupancy tax on larger businesses (likely to see reduced property taxes under AVI).
And while we’re talking about funding crises: Even in crisis SEPTA is a powerful economic engine. A SEPTA-commissioned Economy League/Econsult study confirms that SEPTA is an important economic force – even during these cash-strapped days – in terms of jobs, economic output, and state tax revenue, the Inquirer reports. The report is intended to help SEPTA persuade state lawmakers to help fund the transit agency.
The reconstruction of Dilworth Plaza is running a hair behind schedule, reports NewsWorks. Aboveground work should be visible this summer and it is expected to reopen in early 2014.
Soko Lofts is no Piazza because it lacks sufficient ground floor retail spaces that help the Piazza feel like part of the neighborhood, argues Inga Saffron in her most recent column. As PlanPhilly reported in March, the 320-unit project is planned for the former Absco scrap yard in South Kensington. Rather than help give life to the street through retail spaces, Soko Lofts devotes a lot of ground floor space to parking. The project will come before the Civic Design Review committee on May 7.
It’s springtime, so that means sidewalk café season is back, and it’s also time for the Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky to remind businesses that they don’t own the sidewalk. And this year, the Streets Department is looking to write more tickets: More inspectors will be out fining overzealous cafés, maybe even bringing Sanitation Department trash compactors along as enforcement muscle. Better still, L&I will be working with Streets to force café owners into compliance. If the paltry $75 fine doesn’t encourage better café behavior, L&I can force the business through a hearing, suspend its cafe license, or ultimately revoke the restaurant’s license.
Hidden City Daily heads deep within the belly of City Hall to explore what’s inside it’s massive basement: generations of mechanical systems and wiring, ceilings graced with prismatic skylights, and some very “deep storage” for several city departments.
The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.