Philadelphia, January. 26, 2017 – City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) on Thursday proposed a series of actions in anticipation of possible federal and state funding cuts and other measures that would put the city’s finances and residents at risk.
“In light of threats to Philadelphia’s revenues and municipal authority made by President Trump and Republican legislative majorities in Washington and Harrisburg, City Council has a fiduciary and moral duty to act quickly to protect all who reside and work here. In order to maintain solid fiscal footing and preserve essential city services, we must reexamine the City’s revenues, expenditures, and policy priorities to prepare for the worst,” Council President Clarke said.
Upon Council consent, the Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation will hold hearings to examine actions taken and contemplated by the Trump Administration, including an executive order tying federal funding to Philadelphia law enforcement policy and a legislative effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which reportedly could cost 1.1 million Pennsylvanians to lose health insurance and cost 137,000 Pennsylvanians their jobs.
The Committee also would examine how the $1.7 billion state deficit and possible General Assembly budget impasse might affect City finances and state-controlled public school system.
Council President Clarke also offered resolutions regarding equitable development, tax collection, and fair and affordable housing in Philadelphia. If one resolution is approved, Council will hold hearings to investigate the Revenue Department, Office of Property Assessment, and Land Bank, along with procedures for the collection of delinquent property taxes, acquisition of delinquent properties, and lien and sheriff sales of tax-delinquent properties.
“Council has learned that bureaucratic inefficiencies that led to the City’s tax delinquency and vacancy crisis persist to this day,” Council President Clarke said. “Bad data and sloppy procedures are causing publicly owned or Land Bank-owned properties to be sold at sheriff sale – frequently to speculators – while vacant land owned by delinquent property owners goes untouched. Instead of building more affordable and workforce housing in gentrifying neighborhoods, we are practically giving land away to developers who are building new housing that the majority of Philadelphians cannot afford. We ought to seriously consider a moratorium on lien and sheriff sales before more damage is done.”
A separate resolution calls for the adoption and implementation of the 2016 Assessment of Fair Housing report, submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to meet the goals of the Obama Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. Following a rigorous public input process, the 2016 Assessment of Fair Housing report contains findings of patterns for bias in housing and identifies 11 goals with 52 specific strategies for fair housing access in the City of Philadelphia.
Council President Clarke added: “This is the most unpredictable and ominous climate for the City of Philadelphia I have seen in my 17 years in office. Threats to dismantle the safety net, making people sicker and more susceptible to poverty, are coming from Washington and Harrisburg along with proposals to limit elected officials’ authority to protect citizens with legislation, such as a standing law that expanded earned paid sick leave for workers. As many of us have learned the hard way, voting is not enough. Marching is not enough. Philadelphia City Council will do everything within our authority — and test the limits of our authority if we must — in order to protect all who live, work, and visit here.”
Read the resolutions:
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Council President Darrell L. Clarke is serving his second term as the President of Philadelphia City Council. He represents Philadelphia’s 5th Council District. More information at phlcouncil.com/DarrellClarke
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