October 20, 2013 |
MAYOR NUTTER'S administration yesterday continued to build the case for the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works, releasing a cost/benefit analysis showing how the sale could be a good deal for taxpayers. The new report, completed by the city-hired consulting firm Lazard Freres, estimates that PGW will fetch $1.45 billion to $1.9 billion in a sale - a $50 million increase from an estimate 18 months ago. That would result in a net profit of $422 million to $872 million, after PGW's substantial debts are paid off. Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart said the report provides a conservative estimate of the utility's value for two reasons: It did not take into account the potential for new business opportunities that bidders may be eyeing through a purchase, and it did not consider rate increases that PGW is already pursuing.
October 19, 2013 |
A privatized Philadelphia Gas Works would pay very little city tax compared with the $18 million fee the utility now generates annually for the treasury, but Nutter administration officials say its sale could yield far bigger long-term benefits for city taxpayers. City Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart acknowledged Thursday that the municipal utility, if sold to a private buyer, would generate a "minimal amount of tax revenue" for the city - less than $300,000 a year. But Rhynhart said proceeds from the sale, if used to pay down the city's underfunded pension liability, could reduce the annual pension obligation by much more than the utility now generates in income.
September 27, 2013 |
MAYOR NUTTER yesterday gave a high-profile speech about urban violence and illegal guns at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. But back home, one of the mayor's signature gun-control efforts, the "Sandy Hook Principles," appears to be struggling to gain steam. The policy, announced in January after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., aims to compel gun manufacturers and retailers in which the city's pension fund invests to sign off on eight safety-minded policies.
September 27, 2013 |
MAYOR NUTTER has for weeks been calling on City Council - publicly and privately - to move forward on Gov. Corbett's school-funding plan, but has yet to get a single member to introduce the legislation. City Hall insiders say it's emblematic of Council's sheer disregard for the mayor, who appears to lack even a single reliable ally to push his second-term agenda. "I've never heard of that before. Never," said Councilman Jim Kenney, a former longtime Nutter pal and ally, who finds the school-funding stalemate symbolic of the mayor's icy relations with Council.
September 6, 2013 |
WHEN ASKED about his disagreement with Council President Darrell Clarke over Philly's school-funding crisis, Mayor Nutter often stresses that they really aren't that far apart. He rattles off a list of policy goals he shares with Clarke and he questions why people focus on their differences. The mayor has a point: On many fronts, he and Clarke are on the same page: Both want a new school-funding formula for the state, both want Harrisburg to enable a city tax on cigarettes, and both want to split new sales-tax revenue 50/50 between Philly's schools and its pension fund.
August 15, 2013
TWO MORE days. If Friday doesn't arrive with a $50 million check, Superintendent William Hite says that he will delay the Sept. 9 opening of schools. Hite made that announcement six days ago. Not only are we no closer to resolving the issue, but the situation is worse: Hours after state and city lawmakers yesterday called on Gov. Corbett to release $45 million promised from the state, Corbett pulled out a flaming hoop for the schools to jump through, demanding concessions from teachers, whose contract doesn't expire for two more weeks.
August 9, 2013
THIRTY-ONE days just became seven. If City Council doesn't move on certifying $50 million in proceeds from the sales tax to the School District by next Friday, Superintendent William Hite says he will be unable to open the schools on Sept. 9. So the daily countdown of time remaining in the standoff between the schools and the state and city lawmakers who have fallen short of finding the money the schools need to open has just been shortened. More to the point, Hite has finally introduced the nuclear option.
August 7, 2013 |
WITH SCHOOLS set to open next month, the Nutter administration and the Philadelphia School District are calling on City Council to move forward with a plan to send funding from an extension of the 1 percent sales-tax increase to the financially troubled school system. Part of Gov. Corbett's rescue plan allows the city to borrow $50 million against an extension of the sales tax, which beginning in fiscal year 2015 would bring in $120 million for schools annually. The Nutter administration's original plan to help the district close a $304 million budget hole was to enact a new $2-per-pack tax on cigarettes, but that failed to get approval in Harrisburg.
August 2, 2013 |
CITY COUNCILWOMAN Maria Quinones-Sanchez thinks Gov. Corbett's recently approved plan to help the School District of Philadelphia close a massive budget gap is too risky, and yesterday she called on the city to do more. Sanchez wants the city to send a onetime grant of up to $50 million to restore school nurses, counselors, safety staff and other services - all of which are in jeopardy in the face of a $304 million budget hole. The funding would become available because tax revenues are now expected to be higher than initially anticipated, Sanchez said.
July 25, 2013
Like Harrisburg before it, Detroit was brought to the brink of bankruptcy by bad government as well as bad breaks. Kwame Kilpatrick, who could face decades in prison for running a criminal enterprise out of the mayor's office, is only the worst example of the sort of leadership that sped Detroit's plummet from Ford-fueled prosperity to last week's filing for the nation's largest ever municipal bankruptcy. A failure to adjust to dwindling resources ultimately left the city with such unbearable burdens as $3.5 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.