Planning Commission accepts six-year fiscal plan, sends it on to Mayor Nutter

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission unanimously adopted the city’s new six-year capital program and budget in a special session on Friday, after an outline of the plan by Deputy Director Alan Urek.

According to its charter the Planning Commission is required to give a recommendation on the annual capital program and budget to the mayor within 120 days of the end of the fiscal year. Once the mayor approves it, the ordinance is sent to City Council for hearings.

The capital program, for fiscal years 2015 through 2020, totals about $9.4 billion recommended for 69 projects involving 21 departments. The budget program totals $3.2 billion and calls for $131.5 million in new city bond supported funds. The process, which involved the PCPC and the city’s Budget Office, spanned the last year. Nicole McCormac, representing the city’s budget office, has been working with the PCPC on its capital plans and was on hand to field questions.

Urek opened his presentation by saying the mission of the agency is essentially to support the city’s larger goals by addressing the highest priority planning and commerce concerns. Urek said the program is restrained by how much it can spend given what the state constitution mandates and the city’s ability to borrow. Although the borrowing capacity is slightly higher than in years past due to the Actual Value Initiative that should boost tax revenues that program is still chronically underfunded given Philadelphia’s vast facilities and technolgy needs.

Urek led an interdepartmental effort to prepare the City’s Capital Program, the blueprint for investing in Philadelphia’s physical and technology infrastructure, community facilities, and public buildings. The capital budget is the program’s first year spending plan.

Limited financial resources dictate that priorities be established among the competing needs of more than 20 city agencies and departments. PCPC and city budget department staff establishes priorities based upon several considerations, including: 

  • Philadelphia2035; and recommendations contained in community plans, which reflect the needs of the city’s neighborhoods and population;
  • The need to maintain and enhance the city’s physical plant so as to deliver public services as effectively as possible;
  • City government’s fiscal policies and constraints; and
  • The ability to leverage capital funding from other government and private sources.

The six-year capital program is the city’s plan for investing in core mission challenges such as Youth and Protecting the Most Vulnerable (parkland site improvement, Free Library improvements, recreational facility improvements).

But it also focuses on less quantitative measures, such as improvements to neighborhoods and quality-of-life issues, while supporting numerous other municipal government priorities. Examples are:

  • Projects promoting the city’s public safety initiatives (Police and fire station renovation, streets and highway reconstruction and resurfacing, improved trails network, prison security system upgrades);
  • Education, economic development and jobs (Free Library infrastructure upgrades, city shelter upgrades, Zoo improvements, Philadelphia International Airport service and infrastructure improvements, neighborhood commercial centers, Reading Viaduct project, waterfront improvements and SEPTA infrastructure);
  • Government reform and technology improvements (sustainability through energy efficiency improvements, improvements to traffic control, SEPTA customer service and fare collection improvements).

Full video below.

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