April 18, 2014
THOUGH it's hard to believe, the Philadelphia School District's financial situation is about to get worse. Despite slashing its budget, closing schools and shedding nearly 8,000 jobs in recent years, the district still faces a deficit in the range of $210 million in the next school year. And it doesn't have much time to come up with the additional money. The School Reform Commission must approve a budget for the 2014-15 school year by May 30. Without assured funding from state and local sources, the SRC will have no choice but to once again cut jobs and programs.
March 15, 2014 |
With the battle lines drawn by Mayor Nutter's budget address, combatants on the dominant issues facing lawmakers this spring wasted no time staking their positions. A week after protesters were shut out of the mayor's speech - and Nutter spoke to a uncharacteristically subdued chamber - advocates returned in force for Thursday's City Council meeting. They flooded the hallways before the meeting, sat with their signs during the proceedings, and visited with Council members after. And during the meeting, members of a coalition fighting the proposed sale of the Philadelphia Gas Works even were even able to adress Council from the lectern.
March 7, 2014 |
THE $3.8 billion budget that Mayor Nutter will propose to City Council today would increase spending by only 1.3 percent, which is less than inflation, according to a budget overview obtained by the Daily News . Excluding a pass-through appropriation that would be triggered only if the city sells Philadelphia Gas Works, Nutter is proposing a $47 million uptick in spending. Of that, $32 million would go to nondiscretionary pension and debt-service costs, and the rest would be scattered across selected programs.
March 1, 2014 |
Like many investors, Philadelphia's city employee pension fund had a good year in 2013. It earned close to 11 percent in the fiscal year ended last June and kept making gains the rest of the year. But the better-than-usual investment performance didn't dent the pension system's huge unfunded liability. That figure actually climbed to nearly $5.2 billion as of July 1, leaving the fund with less than half (48.1 percent) of the assets it should have to meet its eventual liabilities, according to a new actuarial analysis presented Thursday to the city's retirement board.
February 28, 2014 |
DESPITE HIGHER-than-expected investment returns, the city's pension fund remains less than half-funded, an actuary told the city yesterday. At the end of the last fiscal year, in July, the pension system had enough money to cover only 48.1 percent of its future liabilities - the same ratio as last year - Kenneth Kent, of the actuarial firm Cheiron, said at a meeting of the city Board of Pensions. Later in the meeting, the board voted to lower its expected rate of return on investments, which will have the effect of further increasing the unfunded liability.
February 27, 2014 |
ENDING A five-year stalemate, Mayor Nutter yesterday signed a tentative agreement for a new contract with the city's white-collar union. Nutter announced the deal last night with Fred Wright, the recently elected president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' District Council 47. Nutter cited Wright's replacing union president Cathy Scott as a reason the negotiations moved forward. "This agreement, as everyone knows, has been a long time in coming, and not for a moment would I suggest that it's been an easy process because it has not been," Nutter said at a news conference.
February 11, 2014 |
THE PENSION crisis facing Philadelphia - and cities and states across the country - is almost universally blamed on the kick-the-can-down-the-road tactics of past politicians, who promised costly retirement benefits to workers without creating revenue streams to pay for them. Now, just as governments begin to tackle this reality, some economists and observers are saying that officials are once again kicking the can. But this time, the maneuver is a little trickier. In short, governments are assuming that their pension-fund investments will do better in the market than many believe is possible.
November 23, 2013 |
The West Chester Borough Council on Wednesday killed a proposed earned income tax that officials had said was necessary to save the borough's diminishing pension fund. Mayor Carolyn Comitta, who was in favor of the 0.25 percent tax increase, said she was "very disappointed" in the 4-3 council vote. "Quite frankly, it is in my opinion a mistake," she said. "You really can't kick these very important decisions down the road and that's what happened again. We're in the same place we were before.
November 13, 2013 |
PHILADELPHIA When it comes to postrecession recovery, Philadelphia is in the middle of the pack of large cities, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts report released Monday. While the city was almost near full recovery in 2011 - the last full year of data used for the report - Pew researchers warned that Philadelphia's unfunded pension and retiree health benefits posed great threats to the city's available revenue in years to come. The report, "America's Big Cities in Volatile Times," was based on data from 2007 through 2011 and looked at how the country's 30 most populous cities fared in the aftermath of the recession, which ended in June 2009.