Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney delivered his eighth and final budget address to Philadelphia City Council. The $6.1 billion operating budget, the largest in city history, makes new investments in education, violence prevention, and anti-poverty measures.
The budget presented to council is comprised of two components; the operating budget and the capital budget. The operating budget is the funding for day-to-day city activities, such as salaries and benefits for city employees.
The capital budget is for long-term expenses, primarily building and city infrastructure maintenance. FY 2024’s capital budget is $3.72 billion.
Kenney highlighted education, public safety, racial equity, poverty reduction, housing, and infrastructure as his top priorities when crafting the budget.
Kenney specifically touted the following components of the 2024 budget:
$282 million contribution to the school district
$233 million for gun violence prevention
$11.6 million for Catto Scholarships
$47.5 million for Rebuild
$37 million to expand library service to six days per week
$2.5 million for expanded street sweeping
$4 million to combat illegal dumping
$5 million to clear criminal justice-related debts
$29 million over five years for eviction prevention
$6.7 million over five years for 100 housing units for homeless people
$3.2 million for tiny homes
$20 million for FDR park improvements
Kenney also committed $62 million for fare-free transit for 25,000 Philadelphians subsisting below the poverty level, and will spend $9 million to provide free transit to city employees.
This budget also reduces the city’s two largest taxes; the Resident Wage Tax will be cut from 3.9% to 3.7565%, and the Business Tax will see a drop from 5.9% to 5.83%. Even with the proposed reduction, the Wage Tax will still generate $1.759 billion in revenue, an increase of $50 million from FY 2023’s projections. The Business Tax, however, is expected to bring in $20 less than what was projected in 2023.
The $6.1 billion budget consists of $5.99 billion in revenues, and $391 million in American Recovery Plan funds, with a fund balance of $524 million.
Councilmember Kendra Brooks released a statement praising certain aspects of the budget, including expansion of the Catto Scholarship, extending hours at libraries and recreation centers, quality-of-life and safety issues.
However, Brooks expressed concern regarding other areas of the budget, specifically a lack community development, and lamenting funding shortfalls for various city departments, and particularly decrying the proposed tax cuts.
“Cuts to the BIRT and wage taxes will deliver negligible savings for working families, while resulting in windfalls for our wealthiest residents and corporations,” Brooks said. “Trickle-down tax cuts for the ultra-rich deprive our city of essential revenue and make it impossible for us to deliver the fully-funded neighborhood services and programs that lift people out of poverty, reduce violence, and stabilize communities.”