Council President Clarke Touts “Strategic Investments” Benefitting All Philadelphians
Philadelphia, November 12, 2019 – City Council’s Appropriations Committee held hearings today on a series of budget transfer ordinances, and Councilmembers made the case for what they termed “strategic investments” in initiatives on public safety, housing, neighborhood commercial corridors and other programs benefitting a wide swath of Philadelphia.
In a series of budget ordinances heard today by Council’s Appropriations Committee chaired by Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez (7th District), here are some of those investments championed by City Council.
- $5 million for strategies aimed at reducing the city’s unacceptable level of gun violence. These funds would go to anti-violence programs such as Focused Deterrence; rapid response trauma teams in neighborhoods; community investment grants and other strategies. The city has been scarred by a series of recent shootings involving infants and toddlers being shot in their homes, in cars and in one case, as they walked home from school.
- $15 million for affordable housing. Programs like Philly First Home, which provides one-time grants to first-time homebuyers to help cover down payments and closing costs to buy a home, are making headway. The city is seeking to target more resources to this program and other affordable housing initiatives under the Housing Trust Fund.
- $10 million in economic stimulus initiatives to support efforts to further attract, retain and grow businesses in Philadelphia.
- $10 million to clean neighborhood business corridors. PHL Taking Care of Business is modeled on a successful program in Councilmember Cherelle Parker’s (9th District) in Northwest Philly. It will create 300 part-time cleaning jobs and support small businesses.
- $25 million to further Council’s commitment to lifting 100,000 people out of poverty, through the ongoing work of Council’s Special Committee on Poverty Reduction and Prevention.
- $2.3 million to the Community College of Philadelphia to support dual enrollment programs.
Council’s consideration of these budget transfers comes at a time when the city has announced a $439 million General Fund balance for Fiscal 2019, which ended June 30. This fund balance represents 9.1 percent of the city’s Fiscal 2019 revenues.
“With a General Fund balance solidly in the black, the city is better prepared to weather any potential economic downturn,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District). “The city is on solid fiscal ground. However, unless Philadelphia continues making strategic investments in areas most vital to our citizens – jobs, education, health, public safety – where will we stand as a city? We believe we must balance fiscal responsibility with investments benefitting every citizen.”
In addition to the strategic investments highlighted above, the budget transfer ordinances contemplate other expenditures as well.
There are investments in the Fire Department to enhance staffing levels and obtain necessary EMS supplies; targeted infrastructure expenditures in the Health Department to upgrade centers where citizens receive health care; funds to the Commerce Department for security cameras in neighborhoods that need them the most.
The growth in the city’s General Fund balance has happened steadily over the past decade. From a negative fund balance of $137.1 million in Fiscal 2009, the fund balance grew to $146 million in fiscal 2012, to $189.2 million in fiscal 2017 and now, $438.7 million in fiscal 2019.
This happened through fiscally responsible budgeting and collaborative governing by successive mayoral administrations and City Council. The city’s tax revenues have grown substantially during this period as well, thanks to an economic recovery.
Watch the hearing:
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