Resolution Introduced by Council President Clarke Follows Revelation of Kenney Administration’s Intent to Use Soda Tax to Fix Budget Problem
Philadelphia, June 9, 2016 – The City Council Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation will conduct hearings this summer on the true financial health of the City of Philadelphia.
Council approved a resolution authorizing the hearings on Thursday, following an 11th-hour revelation that the Kenney Administration intends to use proceeds of a new beverage tax — originally proposed to fund education and public works programs — to shore up the City of Philadelphia’s General Fund.
According to the Kenney Administration, the General Fund Balance is projected to fall to as low as $15 million by Fiscal Year 2018 if no new revenue measures are enacted. A low fund balance could cause ratings agencies to lower the City of Philadelphia’s credit rating, making it more costly for the City to fund capital initiatives through borrowing.
“City Council is deeply concerned about new information we have received in the last days of the budget process regarding Philadelphia’s true fiscal health,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “The legislative branch and the public we represent deserve greater transparency in how public dollars are raised, allocated, and utilized.”
The Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation consists of all members and has oversight over matters related to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) and the City’s Five-Year Financial Plan.
The Committee of the Whole this week gave preliminary approval to a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-added and artificially sweetened soft drinks in order to fund pre-K expansion, community schools, and reinvestment in parks and recreation centers. If given final approval on Thursday, June 16th, the Kenney Administration plans to divert $30 million – or approximately one third – of beverage tax revenues raised in Fiscal Year 2018 to the General Fund.
The resolution can be read here. Hearing dates will be announced shortly.
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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