Breaking down Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s $5 billion budget plan

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Mayor Jim Kenney is proposing a $5.6 billion budget with no property tax increases and increased funding for violence prevention efforts.

Driving the news: City officials gave an overview of Kenney’s plan to increase spending by more than 5% during a budget briefing on Wednesday.

  • The mayor will give his budget speech to City Council on Thursday morning.

Why is this important: It’s Philly’s third spending plan in the era of the pandemic, which continues to hamper the city’s revenue.

  • Yes, but: The city raised $1.4 billion in federal pandemic aid last year, which continues to help replace lost revenue. And Kenney wants to funnel $335 million of that federal aid into his budget.

State of play: Kenney’s plan is fueled by an expected 5.7% increase in revenue over current-year estimates, officials said Wednesday.

  • City departments would see flat or increased spending in the proposal.
  • Meanwhile, all revenues are expected to increase in addition to the property transfer tax.

Between the lines: Property tax revenues are projected to rise 4.5% in Kenney’s budget, even without a tax hike.

  • That’s because new property assessments are coming in for the first time in two fiscal years, in which home values ​​have skyrocketed.
  • “There’s a chance people will see their ratings go up,” Dubow warned.

To note : The Kenney administration has said it will consider working with lawmakers on property tax relief efforts in certain circumstances.

By the numbers: According to the budget plan, spending on violence prevention would increase to $184 million, an 18% increase over last year.

  • The Philadelphia Free Library would receive $9.7 million in new funding, which would help stabilize the five-day service.
  • The city’s school district and Community College of Philadelphia would see funding increases — $14 million and $2 million, respectively.
  • The police department would reap funding increases for new technology ($2.7 million) and upgrades to its forensic science capabilities ($515,000).
  • The fire department would see an additional $1.4 million in funding for the 911 triage and co-responder program.

What they say : Rob Dubow, the city’s chief financial officer, said the budget would make investments to help pandemic recovery, but he warned the city still faces economic uncertainty.

  • “We are still wary about our financial future,” he said.

Worrying: An estimated quarter of the city’s pre-pandemic payroll tax revenue from nonresidents is lost. The payroll tax is the city’s main source of revenue.

  • The budget has an estimated fund balance of $152.8 million, or surplus, which is significantly below best practice.

More: The city continues to lag the region and the country in job recovery.

What awaits us: Hearings on the legislative budget will begin next week and will continue until the end of May.

  • The city council has until July 1 to adopt a spending plan.
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