Mayor Parker offers preview of ‘One Philly Budget’ spending blueprint for the city

Mayor Cherelle Parker called for a cleaner, greener, safer city and included a plan to keep and grow business as part of her spending blueprint.

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Cherelle Parker giving her speech at a podium

File - Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker delivered her first budget address to council at City Hall on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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More money for police, SEPTA, fighting crime and schools are just some of the highlights on what Mayor Cherelle Parker calls her “One Philly Budget.”

Parker delivered the budget speech, the first as mayor, to a packed City Council Chamber, saying “it’s big and it’s bold.”

Cherelle Parker addressing City Council, with Kenyatta Johnson behind her
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker delivered her first budget address to council at City Hall on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Parker told those in the chamber that “I want to say this loud and proud, no new taxes.”

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She continued to say the spending plan is built on five pillars of spending “Public Safety, clean and green, economic opportunity, housing and education.”

The mayor said her spending plan is not just about the money, but about “exciting new approaches” to doing things in the city.

One of the places were the new approaches will be used in the effort to make Philadelphia safer. The mayor referred to her efforts in making the city safer when she said, “We’re laser-focused and unapologetic on improving public safety. For the people of Kensington: The Parker administration hears you! Help is on the way.”

Parker also referred to her plans to expand businesses while retaining current businesses in town.

“We’re taking the PHL Taking Care of Business (PHL TCB) neighborhood cleaning program to the next level, making it bigger and better,” Parker explained.

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The business program is going to invest in disadvantaged groups to help them with start-ups and expanding their businesses.

“We’re investing in workforce development and ‘upskilling’ city workers for more opportunities. We’ll work hand-in-glove with our unions and employers on job creation and building a pipeline to municipal jobs,” Parker said.

Parker also vowed to crack down on “quality of life” crimes.

“Crime and retail theft may not matter to some people but I can tell you they matter to all of the residents and the people I’ve communicated to and with and they matter to me.”

Parker also explained some pilot programs for the city, including full-day schools, twice a week trash collection in some areas and working to expand home ownership.

Cherelle Parker delivering her speech
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker delivered her first budget address to council at City Hall on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“I want everyone to know, this budget comes from the ground up and reflects the voices of the people of Philadelphia,” Parker said.

The mayor said she felt a “sense of urgency” to do things in the city, which includes spending $250 million dollars in paving city streets, frontloading a plan that expects to spend a half billion dollars over the next five years.

Parker spoke about the decision to cut back on some harm reduction strategies, such as needle exchange, saying she wanted private resources to take over where the city cannot afford to do so right now.

Parker also spoke about her clean and green initiative saying there is $246 million to be invested in the city during a five year plan to work on making the city, “the cleanest and greenest big city in America.”

She called for the towing of 10 thousand abandoned cars in the upcoming year and an investment of $18 million in a residential cleaning program with dedicated crews for each councilmanic district along with the purchase of 60 new trash trucks to help with the mandate.

Kevin Bethel applauding the speech
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel applauded Mayor Cherelle Parker’s budget address to council on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The move includes $11 million for a pilot of twice-weekly trash collection in some of the neighborhoods, “most challenged by crime and litter.” In addition, there will be a bulk trash crew, more cameras focusing on illegal dumping spots in the city and 1,500 new trash cans, “with the staff to make sure they are dumped regularly.” Parker announced.

The budget does not add any additional spending, just redirects priorities to what the Parker administration wants to do, with measurable “see and touch” efforts throughout the city.

The city also plans to continue the Rebuild initiative that started with the Kenney administration to fix parks, recreation centers and libraries.

People holding up signs during Mayor Parker's speech
Supporters of Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker’s agenda held up signs during her budget address to council at City Hall on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

More money for SEPTA and schools are also in the spending plan, with Parker calling for the transit agency to make the system safer.

The mayor called on help from the state to raise the minimum wage to improve life for workers and the city.

The plan additionally calls for $130 million for economic opportunity and training programs, especially for historically disadvantaged groups. The city will also give $10 million to Community College of Philadelphia to create a “first in the nation College for Municipal Employment.”

Leslie Richards in the audience inside City Council chambers for Mayor Parker's speech
SEPTA CEO Leslie Richards (right) held up her finger to signify support of Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker’s ‘One City’ agenda after the budget address on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Parker also said they would help with the training of people for life-sciences and other high tech careers in the city.

She called for people to help the city and vowed to tour in a series of town hall meetings and budget briefings to sell the spending plan.

The budget also includes money to start the creation of 30 thousand new housing units in the city, calling on people, “to hold me to it.”

Parker called on the city to figure out a way to allow retired city workers to return to the job while also collecting their pension checks.

Cherelle Parker and Curtis Jones Jr. hugging
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker embraced council member Curtis Jones Jr. and other council members after she delivered her first budget address on March 14, 2024. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

She believes retirees will come back if given the opportunity.

Parker talked about a “return to office” for all city employees and said childcare and eldercare will be part of the way the city cushions the blow of asking workers to come back. “My administration will treat you with respect,” Parker said.

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