Next Great City: Mayor’s Proposed Budget impacts on sustainability

A message from Next Great City:

Mayor Nutter presented his Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Address to members of City Council last week.  We’ve looked over the proposed budget to see how it would affect the Next Great City (NGC) actions, and this is what we observed:

Energy – Mayor Nutter has proposed a $500,000 budget line to make energy-efficiency improvements to city facilities. While the NGC recommendation is for the construction of energy-efficient facilities, energy-efficiency improvements of existing buildings is in line with that goal. 

Parks and Trees – A proposed $1 million increase in capital funds for tree planting would support Next Great City’s tree planting goal. An additional $2.5 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation’s operating budget for new staff will be a boon for fostering healthy parks with improved maintenance.

Recycling – Mayor Nutter has proposed the “Keep Philly Clean Service Fee”, which would be $300 a year for most residents, or $200 for low-income households. While a “pay as you throw” system would help to incentivize recycling, a flat fee does not encourage people to produce less trash or to recycle more. However, residents that sign up with the Philadelphia Recycling Rewards program can earn up to $400 a year, offsetting the proposed trash fee.

The “Keep Philly Clean Service” as proposed will be a benefit to the NGC vacant lot recommendation by providing more revenue for cleaning and greening.  The funds would also restore leaf recycling, helping to increase composting.

Riverfronts – The proposed budget includes over $6 million for riverfront improvements. Specifically, the allocations would go to:

  • Central, Schuylkill and North Delaware Riverfront Improvements – $4.13 million
  • Race Street Pier Infrastructure and Park Improvements – $1.9 million
  • Additionally, more than $8.8 million in City, federal, state, and private funding is proposed for plans and improvements along the Central and North Delaware River waterfronts, with an additional $4.3 million in City, state, and federal funding for Schuylkill Riverfront improvements.

Citizens are urged to speak out to share their thoughts during the public hearings that will be held in the coming months.

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