September 28, 2013
Lacking oversight In 2012, a maverick board member, Sam Hopkins, and the chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, Sam Katz, threatened to reject Mayor Nutter's budget containing four unsigned union contracts and other major shortcomings in the five-year forecast. Hopkins was subsequently politically removed. PICA board meetings this year from June forward were characterized by disagreement and concern over these same issues. Three budget revisions and a settlement of the firefighter contract kept this process delayed until the board's Sept.
September 19, 2013 |
The board that oversees Philadelphia's finances voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the city's five-year fiscal plan, despite continued concern about the impact of unresolved labor contracts. The five members of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board sided against their own staff report, which had recommended that the Nutter administration's plan be rebuffed. Although the plan includes money to pay wage increases to firefighters and municipal employees represented by AFSCME District Councils 33 and 47, the report worried that the costs of settling those contracts could be greater than anticipated.
September 18, 2013 |
City Controller Alan Butkovitz suggested Monday that the state oversight board monitoring Philadelphia budgets should reject the Nutter administration's latest five-year financial plan. The plan, facing a vote Tuesday by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), shows fund balances as low as $8.5 million by mid-2017 - too close to zero to be considered a safe course for city finances, Butkovitz wrote to PICA. "Any significant deviations because of unforeseen circumstances such as litigation, severe weather, or future unexpected commitments to the School District of Philadelphia could drastically impact city operations," Butkovitz wrote in the letter to the five-member board.
August 1, 2013 |
THE STATE BOARD that oversees Philly's finances postponed a vote on Mayor Nutter's five-year fiscal plan yesterday, saying it is short-staffed and needs more time to review the document. Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board member Michael Karp, who is in Paris and was on speakerphone for the meeting, proposed the delay because he had not received a PICA staff analysis of the plan until late last week. By law, the board is required to take "action" on the plan by Saturday, a month after Nutter's administration submitted it. Apparently caught off-guard by Karp's suggestion, PICA members reasoned aloud that requesting more information from the city and postponing the vote constituted "action.
July 25, 2013
KICKING the can down the road - delaying action on the hard problem - is one time-honored political strategy. Why do something today when you can wait until you are safely re-elected, or even longer? The bankruptcy of Detroit is proof of the flaw in that strategy. And the lesson we can learn from Detroit, says Jennifer Bradley, of the Brookings Institution, is that "any place that thinks it can kick the can down the road will find the road can drop off abruptly. " Certainly not all of Detroit's problems were of its own making.
May 31, 2013 |
Fran Burns will become the chief operating officer of the Philadelphia School District after stepping down as executive director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority next month. "While we are disappointed to lose Fran's knowledge of city government, experience, professionalism, and energy, we wish her every success in her new role," said Sam Katz, PICA's board chair, who announced her departure Wednesday. "Fran indicated that her background in municipal government operations made the opportunity to move to the School District too enticing to pass up," Katz said.
May 30, 2013 |
AFTER ABOUT one year as executive director of the city's fiscal watchdog, Fran Burns will resign next month to become the school district's chief operating officer. Sam Katz, who chairs the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a state board that oversees Philly's finances, said yesterday that Burns will resign June 28 - around the time the city will send PICA its revised five-year financial plan for approval. Katz said Burns is "a very skilled and dedicated public servant" and he's "disappointed" she is leaving, especially given the timing.
April 30, 2013 |
THE PENNSYLVANIA Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. The name seems to embody governmental minutiae, a bureaucratic backwater with little relevance to taxpayers. At times in the past, that's not far from how PICA operated. But this year, the state board that oversees Philly's finances could play a dynamic role in shaping the city's budget plans. And it's already caught up in a political tango between City Hall and Harrisburg. "A lot of people are eyeing PICA," said Zack Stalberg, president of the good-government group Committee of Seventy.
February 24, 2013
Gov. Corbett announced Friday the reappointment of Sam Katz to chair Philadelphia's state fiscal oversight board, the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. Katz, a documentary filmmaker and former Republican mayoral candidate, was first appointed in March 2011. The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) was created in 1991 during the city's fiscal crisis. Philadelphia mayors each year are required to submit a five-year budget plan for approval by PICA's five-member board.
February 15, 2013 |
AFTER SERVING less than one full term, an outspoken member of the state-appointed board that oversees Philadelphia's finances is in danger of losing his post - and some are saying he's a political casualty. Sam Hopkins, the only member of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority who voted against Mayor Nutter's financial plan last fall, was recently informed that he will not be reappointed, according to PICA Chairman Sam Katz. But staffers for state Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa, who appointed Hopkins to fill a vacancy in late 2011, said that Costa hasn't yet made up his mind about Hopkins.