March 25: City Council begins budget hearings amid AVI debate | Rizzo theater | Lenfest Foundation shifts | SEPTA’s 2014 budget | Soko Lofts planned | LaSalle marches on

Welcome to the working week, Streeters. Don’t fret about the sloppy weather. We may see 2-4 inches of snow fall today but it won’t stick around.

NewsWorks reports that City Council will begin its budget hearings this morning at 10am. [Council agenda pdf] Councilmembers are getting an earful from upset and confused constituents at community meetings in their districts about AVI, the Inquirer reports, so expect AVI to take center stage.

During its budget hearings Council will comb through departmental budgets that exceed $5 million. But NewsWorks reminds us that among the budgets that won’t be scrutinized by City Council? It’s own. “They do not want to go public with their spending or the secret funds they control,” said the Committee of Seventy’s Zach Stalberg.

Rizzo, the play? It could happen. Passyunk Square’s Theatre in Exile has a deal to adapt Sal Paolantonio’s biography of Frank Rizzo for the sage, reports.

Since 2000 the Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest have given away about $1 billion. Gerry Lenfest is stepping aside as chair of the Lenfest Foundation, as it plans to spend down its remaining $100 million largely to help Philadelphia’s disadvantaged youth. The foundation intends to partner with existing programs in three areas: early-childhood education, career/technical education, and out-of-school time.

Last week SEPTA proposed a $1.32 operating budget for 2014, with a $38 million gap. The Inquirer reports that this budget would spend off the last $24 million from the transit agency’s rainy day fund, and the July fare hikes don’t make up for the rising cost of wages and benefits.

Last week South Kensington residents heard preliminary plans for a 320-apartment complex to be built at the former Absco scrap yard at 2nd and Master streets. PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates was on hand at the South Kensington Community Partners meeting and reports that as much as community members are supportive of new development on this vacant parcel, there are concerns about rapidly adding that much density, parking, and how this development will set the tone for future large-scale infill along the American Street corridor. The team behind Soko Lofts said it would build in two phases and be organized around a central courtyard, similar to the Piazza. Unlike the Piazza, this courtyard isn’t intended as a truly public space.

How about LaSalle’s win over Ole Miss yesterday courtesy of a Southwest Philly Floater? We were sad to see Temple drop a heartbreaker to Indiana in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament yesterday, but the LaSalle Explorers are now marching on to the Sweet 16 where they will face Wichita State.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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