Budget wrap up: Nutter challenges unions & Council, they respond

    By: Tom MacDonald and Elizabeth Fiedler

    The budget proposed by Mayor Nutter today is a difficult pill to swallow for many if not all Philadelphia residents and businesses.

    By: Tom MacDonald
    and Elizabeth Fiedler

    The budget proposed by Mayor Nutter today is a difficult pill to swallow for many if not all Philadelphia residents and businesses.

    The budget includes service cuts, double digit increases to property taxes and a one percent sales tax hike to make the spending plan balance.  Mayor Nutter is asking everyone, including the heads of the four city employee unions, to take cuts to assist him in moving the city through the economic downturn.

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    Nutter: “It’s time for leaders to lead and not follow the screaming masses. Work with me, work with us. I’m asking for a new level of cooperation that will benefit all of us.  We need to be open to new ideas.”

    The mayor is also asking unionized city workers to pay for part of  their health and pension benefits. He is also raising fees for emergency medical services, and trash pickup to small businesses. City wide overtime will be virtually non-existent and  half the city swimming pools won’t be filled and staffed this summer.

    Part 2:
    The Mayor’s budget plan provoked strong reactions from some of the very people he mentioned in his address.

    Blue collar workers union head Pete Matthews:

    Matthews: “To say that you’re gonna raise taxes and to say you’re not gonna lay off police and fire who I say do a great job and not saying anything about city employees, what are we secondary workers?”

    The labor leader wasn’t the only one in the room upset by the budget plan.

    Nutter’s proposals to increase property and sales taxes drew the ire of City Councilman Brian O’Neill who said he disagrees with the mayor claim that he’s leading the city in a new direction.

    O’Neill: “This did not sound like a new way.  It’s a new day but it’s the old way. This is the way we did things 25 years ago, 35 years ago: just threw it all on the taxpayers.”

    City Council now holds public hearings on the budget, then submits it to the Mayor for his approval.

    Click on the play button below or right click on this link and choose “Save Link As” to download. [audio: reports20090319double.mp3]

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