With education, education, education in the spotlight, other budget issues haven’t gotten as much play. The $3.8 billion budget that City Council approved Thursday includes funding for a bike share program and land for a new prison facility. Here are six things you probably haven’t heard about the city’s budget. The figures below compare the adopted budgets for 2013-14 and 2012-13.
LIBRARIES+ $1 million
The Free Library is receiving an additional $1 million in the upcoming fiscal year to increase staffing and hours of operation. The extra funds could help alleviate a problem that has been affecting the city’s libraries for years: temporary, unscheduled closings due to staff shortages. The Free Library will be taking on 15 new full-time employees as well as seasonal support.
BIKE SHARE+ $3 million
The Mayor’s bike share project is getting $3 million in capital funds. Nutter also expects an additional $5-6 million in state, federal and private funding to cover the entire $8-10 million investment required to launch the project. Whereas New York and London have completely contracted out their bike share programs to private companies, Philadelphia’s government will — at least initially — be involved in overseeing and funding its bike share. The city is also looking for a private partner to help manage the program. During budget hearings this spring, some city council members pointed to the bike share proposal as a symbol of wasteful spending.
PARKS AND REC+ $3.4 million
The Department of Parks and Recreation will get a $3.4 million boost in 2013-14, compared to 2012-13’s adopted budget. (However, it’s worth noting that City Council and Mayor Michael Nutter decided in the middle of the year to set aside an additional $2.6 million for the department, which means that it will get roughly the same amount of money in both years.) This increase is a win for the Philadelphia Parks Alliance and other park advocates, who have been pushing for more funding for years. But the Parks Alliance has claimed that the budget is still $5 million short. In 2009, Nutter had promised an $8 million increase over five years, but the department never saw that money, and its budget mostly stagnated in the years that followed. This extra money will place parks funding a little over the level at which it was five years ago.
PUBLIC SAFETY+ $43 million for Police+ $11.5 million for Prisons
For one, the budget grants the Police Department a $43 million boost next fiscal year. $20 million of those funds will be used to pay for a 3 percent wage increase, and the rest will be used to hire more officers. The Prisons System also gets $2.35 million from the capital budget to acquire land for a new prison facility, as well as a $11.5 million boost in general funds in 2013-14 to accommodate the growing inmate population. The growth in population is partly due to the court’s enforcement of higher bail for those charged with illegal gun possession, and automatic contempt charges, plus higher bail, for suspects who fail appear in court.
LICENCES AND INSPECTIONS+ 20 new inspectors- $3.5 million total
Licenses and Inspections is getting a $780,000 boost in general funds next fiscal year to pay for 20 new code enforcement and building inspectors. Following the fatal building collapse on June 5, Mayor Michael Nutter has proposed several reforms to the way L&I monitors demolitions. The new hires will, in part, help accommodate the new construction site task force that Nutter suggested as part of those changes. Despite the extra funding for new hires, L&I’s total operating budget will decrease by $3.5 million, due mostly to a reduction in federal grant funding.
LABOR CONTRACTS+ $84.7 million
The budget appropriates nearly $85 million in 2013-14 for potential labor obligations. This encompasses $37 million to fund potential costs for future contracts with municipal unions, including the firefighters’ union, and District Councils 33 and 47. The rest is earmarked for potential costs related to a firefighters’ union award that has been unsuccessfully appealed so far.
Clarification: This article has been clarified to include additional information about the parks department’s budget.