In Brian O'Neill, Cindy Bass, Council News, Curtis Jones, Jr., Darrell L. Clarke, Featured, Isaiah Thomas, James Harrity, Katherine Gilmore Richardson, Kenyatta Johnson, Mark Squilla, Michael Driscoll, News by Khara Garcia

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With a focus on recruiting and retaining city workers, improving quality of life in neighborhoods, violence prevention and public safety, and a commitment to wage and business tax reductions to spur equitable growth, City Council gave preliminary approval Thursday to a city budget for Fiscal 2024, starting July 1.

The $6.2 Billion budget received approval in Council’s Committee of the Whole, followed by first reading by the full Council. Final passage of the budget is now scheduled for June 15, before it heads to Mayor Kenney for consideration.

The budget deal preliminarily approved by Council Thursday takes an array of actions to address homeowners and taxpayers’ concerns, including:


Hiring Bonuses. $10 Million in hiring bonuses and other incentives to fill vacancies in public safety and other hard-to-fill city positions – a problem that has grown since the COVID-19 pandemic. Council heard testimony in budget hearings of widespread vacancies in the Police Department, Prisons, and other departments.

Police Recruitment & Cadet Training. Adding $3 Million for recruitment of Police Officers, and $1.5 Million to further develop the Police Cadet program.

Parental Leave. $2.1 Million to increase parental leave for city workers from 4 weeks to 6 weeks, an issue associated with recruiting and retaining city workers.

Workforce Development. $5 Million to fund a workforce development program in the Streets Department for existing workers.


Illegal Dumping. $1.475 Million in additional funds to fight illegal dumping in neighborhoods – funding to the Streets Department.

Vacant Lots. $1 Million added for the PA Horticultural Society to clean more lots.

Cleaning up Neighborhood Business Corridors. $3 Million more for an existing city program, Taking Care of Business, that cleans up neighborhood small business shopping corridors, as well as employing workers at a living wage. The increase means the program’s budget will be $10 Million as it expands citywide.

Same Day Pay. An additional $3.5 Million to expand Same Day Pay, a program run jointly by non-profit organizations with city input that puts people to work cleaning and greening city neighborhoods, with an emphasis on hiring returning citizens.

Code Enforcement in Licenses & Inspections and Law. Additional $1 Million to help L & I add more inspectors to help with code enforcement of buildings – a chronic problem in many neighborhoods. Added $560,000 to help Law add 8 attorneys to enforce the laws against illegal construction.

Investing in Recreation Centers. $15 Million in capital spending to upgrade and improve recreation centers in neighborhoods across Philadelphia.

Office of Sustainability. $1 Million added to Office to promote environmental justice and climate change initiatives.


Mental Health Crisis Response Teams. $3 Million more for Mobile crisis response teams to assist Police in responding to 911 calls where mental health problems are indicated. The city currently budgets $6 million for these teams.

Public Safety Cameras. $1 Million to add hundreds more cameras to safeguard neighborhood rec centers and playgrounds, expanding on existing camera efforts.


PowerCorps. An additional $500,000 for PowerCorpsPHL, an AmeriCorps program that trains young people to work in the green economy and urban farming.

“The needs of our citizens and residents are great, and City Council is doing what it historically always does – stepping up to the plate to fund programs it believes are worthy and best able to serve citizens and improve their quality of life,” said Council President Darrell L. Clarke, presiding over his final budget as Council President after 12 years at the leadership helm.

“This process is difficult but vital to the operations of the city,” said Council Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr. (4th District). “We thank the Kenney Administration and members of Council for figuring out mutually what our city needs to prosper.”


Continuing an effort promoted last year, a consensus of Councilmembers supported incremental reductions in the city’s Wage and Business Income & Receipts Taxes that were slightly more than incremental reductions already proposed in this budget by Mayor Kenney.

The Wage tax on residents would decrease from 3.79 percent down to 3.75 percent. The net income portion of BIRT would decline from its current 5.99 percent to 5.81 percent. The original reductions proposed by Mayor Kenney would provide $150 million in tax relief over the Five-Year Plan; the additional tax cuts voted by Council today would provide another $24.1 million in relief over the Five-Year Plan. The added reductions were championed by At Large Councilmembers Katherine Gilmore Richardson and Isaiah Thomas.


“I am so pleased to have the support of my colleagues for the second year in a row in further reducing our City’s wage tax,” said Councilmember Gilmore Richardson. “With the highest wage tax in the nation, these continued reductions will allow us to further uplift residents and Philadelphia’s small and diverse business communities. In addition to my environmental justice and climate change package, I’m confident we’re making necessary investments so our City works for all residents.”

“As the poorest big city in America, we need to make it easier to create jobs and grow small businesses in our city,” said Councilmember Thomas. “By working closely with small business owners with diverse backgrounds, we were able to set a tax structure that makes it more affordable for people to choose Philly. This budget eases this burden without cutting services. In addition, we’ve also invested in the arts and our young people to continue to uplift Philly as a world-class city.”

“While this budget which received preliminary approval doesn’t give us everything we wanted, it still achieves several things,” said Council’s Whip, Mark Squilla (1st District). “It includes additional funding to improve quality of life in neighborhoods, it increases our efforts to attract and retain a quality city workforce, and it continues our responsible reductions of wage and business taxes to send a signal to workers and businesses alike: Philadelphia is open for business.”

“I’m happy with the budget that members have by and large come to an agreement on,” said Council’s Deputy Whip Cindy Bass (8th District). “We’re supporting what the people said they want: investment in human services such as violence prevention and mental health, as well as programs to improve their neighborhoods.”

“With an increase in neighborhood crime and a staffing shortage of over 1,000 uniformed officers, we need to provide the Police Department with the funding necessary to fill these vacancies. We want to support our Police in a way that gives them the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us all safe,” said Councilmember Brian O’Neill (10th District).


“I want to thank my Council colleagues and Mayor Kenney’s administration for working together to build a budget that will prioritize everyday Philadelphians and that makes investments in solving our city’s most pressing issues,” said Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District),Chairman of the Special Committee on Gun Violence Prevention.  “This year, I advocated for additional funding for youth programming as part of my “Save Our Youth” budget proposal.  Our city’s young people are in crisis and youth violence is a pressing issue that demands immediate attention and comprehensive solutions. With the investments in this budget, Philadelphia will make significant strides toward our common goal of creating safe, healthy ,and prosperous communities for all Philadelphians.”

The Operating Budget as amended by Council is here.

The Capital Budget as amended by Council is here.

The Capital Program as amended by Council is here.


Councilmembers address public safety issues. Two Councilmembers took legislative action this week to address growing public safety concerns. Council Majority Leader Jones introduced a resolution to study the growing issue of young people wearing black ski-mask-style face coverings – known as “pooh shiesties” — that increasingly are involved in criminal activity. Jones’ resolution authorizes the Council Committee on Public Safety, which he chairs, to hold public hearings on the increasing use of these ski masks across the city.

Next, Councilmember Mike Driscoll (6th District) introduced legislation that would increase fines and enforcement powers for police when individuals use their cars and other vehicles to take over highways and street intersections to stage daring car tricks for assembled crowds. One such large event that took place last weekend on I-95 in Center City led to a fatal confrontation in which a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper shot and killed a young motorist in a car who failed to yield to the officer’s commands. “Actions have consequences,” Councilmember Driscoll said in Council. “A young man on I-95 lost his life. I believe we need more punishment and consequences for these kind of behaviors.”

Honoring the life and legacy of Ted Silary, an iconic local high school sports journalist in Philadelphia. The resolution offered by Councilmember Thomas honored Ted Silary, who built a widespread, sustained following for his indefatigable coverage of local high school sports for the Philadelphia Bulletin and then for the Daily News. Mr. Silary died recently.


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