We (Almost) Have A Budget

Philadelphia City Council moved forward on the Fiscal year 2024 budget, advancing the budget bills from committee and all but ensuring their passage before the end of the spring term.

This iteration of the operating budget expands the original $6.1 billion to $6.2 billion, adding funds to various city departments. With high revenue figures and federal American Recovery Plan funds still available, the fiscal year 2024 operating budget was expected to increase over last year’s $5.9 billion figure.

The Capital Budget, which finances infrastructure improvements such as maintenance of city owned buildings, will be $4.35 billion, an increase over the original $4.32 billion.

The process by which the budget is passed takes place over several months. Beginning in March with the Mayor’s budget address which lays out administration priorities, council and the public have about a month before budget hearings begin in April to review the dense budget material.

Budget hearings begin in April, where city departments come before city council to answer questions about their bridget requests. Once that process has been completed, council takes another month to make alterations to the budget proposals.

Once the final budget is negotiated between city council and the administration, the Committee of the Whole (the entire city council) votes to send the budget bills out of committee. Once this happens, the budget bills must be heard in council twice before they can receive a final vote. In this case, the first reading occurred yesterday.The final vote will occur next week.

While all of the budget bills received a majority of votes to move them out of committee, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier did not support advancing the legislation. During the Committee of the Whole hearing, Gauthier expressed her frustration with the final legislative package, as it did not include an additional $72 million amendment that would provide increases in various city services, such as additional sanitation crews, traffic calming measures, more code enforcement hires, beatification programs, and housing.

“The City budget City Council’s Committee of the Whole advanced out of committee today is a catastrophic mistake,” Gauthier said. “Even though 14 out of 15 City Councilmembers came together to advocate for a $72 million dollar investment in the city services our residents desperately need – this budget only includes a woefully inadequate $5.65 million – or 1/12th of our original ask. At the same time, we are putting millions of dollars back into the pockets of corporations by slashing business taxes at rates higher than what the Kenney Administration proposed.

“Simply put, this budget is a slap in the face to our working class, Black and brown residents who have been begging City Hall for the resources they need to live on a green, clean, and safe block. We can afford $18 million for corporations, but we do not have $9 million to adequately clean up chronic illegal dumping. We can afford $18 million for corporations, but we do not have $4 million to keep young people safe from reckless drivers around their school playgrounds.

“Moving forward with this budget would be like using a garden hose to fight a forest fire – and as we all saw today, there are disastrous consequences when fires are allowed to burn freely. Let me be clear: the proposed $72 million dollar investment is not a cherry on top. It is a surgical improvement to the life-saving services that are the bedrock of a healthy city. That’s why I cannot in good conscience vote to advance such an insulting, out-of-touch, and inadequate budget out of committee.”

Hall Monitor will provide a deeper look at this budget in next Tuesday’s newsletter.

Licenses and Inspections Hearing

The Committee on Licenses and Inspections met to discuss legislation introduced by Councilmember Anthony Phillips regarding nuisance businesses in Philadelphia.

The bill updates and amends the current law in the city code by allowing after-business-hours activities to be considered a nuisance, allowing both the Police Department and Licenses and Inspections to issue notices to cease operations, and increasing the current nuisance business fine of $300 to $2000.

Francis Healy, Special Advisor to the Philadelphia Police Commissioner, said the department favored the bill because it expanded the scope of the work being done by the department while also providing the police with more authority to engage nuisance businesses.

“District captains (are) on the front lines when dealing with nuisance locations,” Healy said. “This bill will provide (them) with the authority to engage nuisance establishments sooner and more effectively.”

In response to a question regarding enforcement strategies from Councilmember Katharine Gilmore Richardson, Healy said a three-step process had been developed.

“First, when we identify nuisance behavior happening, we send a first notification letter to the owners alerting them to the nuisance behavior and offering assistance in developing an abatement plan,” Healy said.

If there is no response, a second letter is sent and those committing the nuisance behaviors cited. The third step is a notice of violation sent by the police department formally designating the location a nuisance business.

Parks and Recreation

The Committee on Parks and Recreation also met this week, with committee chair Cindy Bass questioning the administration on the progress of the Rebuild program, which was meant to provide improvements to parks, libraries, and recreation centers throughout the city.

However, as Bass said during the hearing, while the individual projects were supposed to be completed by the end of the Kenney Administration, many have yet to begin.

Administration officials said 16 rebuild projects were complete, with another 16 under construction and 24 in the design phase. All together, there were supposed to be 79 Rebuild projects. Delays were blamed on litigation regarding the controversial soda tax, a bond that was not issued until 2018, and the pandemic. 

So far, Rebuild has nearly $100 million of a budget somewhere between $430-470 million.

Our reporters sit through hours of city council meetings, dig through piles of documents, and ask tough questions other media overlook. Because we’re committed to addressing Philadelphia’s poverty crisis — and challenging those who sustain it. If you think this work is important too, please support our journalism.

We’re counting on readers like you.


We monitor Philly's local halls of power to bring you the news you need to know.

City Council News No One Else Is Covering. 

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.