Community appeals for funding, support at neighborhood budget hearing

Harriet Tubman

State Capitol, Harrisburg, Pa. (Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

City Council hosted one of its annual neighborhood budget hearing at the West Oak Lane Charter School on Wednesday night. 

The hearing was held to allow the public to weigh in on the City’s capital budget for fiscal year 2015.

‘One-on-one’

While the hearing agenda listed a number of ordinances that community members were invited to provide testimony on, City Council President Darrell Clarke said the hearings have evolved to be more informally about fostering the relationship between government and the members of the communities it serves.

“It’s extremely important for the people get to see their government, other than when they’re on TV. I think people really appreciate the fact that they get to see their government one-on-one,” Clarke said.

“The reality is the likelihood of getting people to actually come out to these forums is enhanced by being in the neighborhood.”

Despite torrential downpours on Wednesday night, the hearing was well attended, and more than 20 community residents and leaders testified before members of the council.

Community appeals for funding

Most of the testifiers expressed their desire for additional funding to be attributed to programs in their communities.

Representatives from the Imhotep Institute Charter School spoke at the hearing, imploring the council to support the school through its charter renewal process. Supporters and members of Public Citizens for Children and Youth were also in attendance at the hearing. The group testified to encourage the council to follow a 1 percent sales-tax extension to fund Philadelphia public schools.

Several other community organization leaders testified, requesting additional funding for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation facilities and centers, which many of the organizations use to host their groups’ activities.

Councilmembers react

Eighth District Councilwoman Cindy Bass said it was great to hear the community speak about the issues that matter to them most.

“It’s so important that we hear from you, the people. Government doesn’t know everything. Your input and feedback is so important to what we do,” she said.

Clarke said the council will take all of the recorded testimonies into consideration as it looks to finalize the budget.

“We did hear some interesting ideas tonight and if it’s a good idea, we’re going to try to incorporate it.”

This was the only neighborhood budget hearing to be held this year. A second hearing, originally scheduled for May 6 has been cancelled.

Councilmembers encouraged residents to attend the upcoming hearings for the proposed budget for the School District of Philadelphia, which will be held on May 7 at City Hall.

Any changes or updates to hearing times and locations will be posted on the City Council Budget Center website.

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