City controller urges PICA to veto Philly’s five-year budget plan

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Philadelphia’s financial watchdog says the city’s five-year budget should be rejected — or at least revised.

City Controller Alan Butkovitz says he doesn’t feel good about the fund balance, the cushion so to speak, in the city’s financial plan.

“The plan leads to declining fund balances, getting as low as $8.5 million dollars for fiscal year 2017,” he said on the eve of a vote on the plan. “Functionally, that’s as close as you can get to going into deficit.”

To put it into perspective, Butkovitz said the balance would only cover about a day’s worth of Philadelphia’s expenses. However, he said, the plan could be easily modified to fix the problem.

“There’s a range of revenue estimates,” he said. “It looks to us that they have probably underestimated revenues. There’s money in debt service, bonds that did not have to be issued or they could do cuts.”

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said city officials are confident of their revenue projections, which include increased labor costs that they say the controller cited as missing last year from the plan.

They are hopeful that when the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority meets Tuesday, the board will approve the plan.

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