Mayor says city among many facing large budget shortfalls in bad economy
PHILADELPHIA – The city will close libraries and swimming pools, suspend planned tax reductions, cut more than 800 jobs and trim salaries for some administrators in order to weather “an economic storm” that could leave the city with a $1 billion shortfall, Mayor Michael Nutter said Thursday.
Nutter outlined the drastic budget cuts in a live, 10-minute televised address – a rarity that represented an attempt to convey the dire nature of the city’s financial situation.
“The city must prepare for the worst,” Nutter said. “Painful program and service cuts are necessary.”
The city is facing a deficit of $108 million this year, and the shortfall could grow to more than $1 billion by 2013, Nutter said.
The fiscal problems stem from the same troubles overwhelming the national and global economies, he said.
Job cuts include layoffs and open positions
The city has about 23,000 employees, according to the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a state agency that helps oversee Philadelphia’s budgets.
The job cuts include 220 layoffs and the elimination of 600 open positions.
Nutter said no firefighters or police officers will be laid off, but 200 police vacancies will go unfilled and some fire equipment will be taken out of service.
Nutter also is calling for about 2,000 employees to be put on five-day, unpaid furloughs in 2009 and 2010.
Cabinet-level officials, including deputy mayors and Nutter himself, will face salary cuts of 3.75 percent to 5 percent.
Other major cities including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are facing similar issues, Nutter said.
Some of the changes, such as the furloughs, can be imposed without legislative approval, but other aspects will be sent before City Council. Legislation already was introduced Thursday morning to raise some city fees.
Councilman Frank DiCicco said he understands the gravity of the situation.
“I’m a realist. There is no money,” DiCicco said.
updated 2:34 p.m. ET Nov. 6, 2008