To address the city’s bleak financial future, Mayor Jerry Sanders asked city-council members to take a hard look at their district and try to find areas where the city could save some cash. On January 21, District 5 councilmember Carl DeMaio did one better.
In a press release issued to the mayor’s office, his fellow councilmembers, and the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, DeMaio laid out the first of three upcoming proposals to balance the city’s massive budget deficit.
“Instead of emphasizing district-specific priorities,” read the press release, “this submission highlights my commitment to the restoration of the city’s overall fiscal health. A citywide view is key because the city as a whole faces a financial crisis that threatens the long-term sustainability of programs in each individual council district.”
DeMaio’s proposal, which steers away from the idea that the city must raise taxes and slash city services in order to balance the budget, is fourfold:
First, the mayor should institute salary freezes and require up to 96 hours of unpaid furloughs for all city employees — including police and fire-rescue — in labor negotiations for fiscal year 2010. These measures, if adopted, will potentially save the city up to $7.3 million for the fiscal year.
Next: Reform the city employees' fringe benefits. DeMaio says the benefits amount to 61.28 percent of the city’s payroll, double the national average.
The third suggestion: implement the mayor’s Managed Competition Plan, which allows private corporations a chance to compete with city departments for city service contracts.
“Unfortunately, this reform has met strong resistance from being implemented — some of it coming from the city council itself. To not move forward with managed competition is a disregard for the will of the voters and inexcusable, given the city’s present financial crisis.”
Lastly: Speed up the payment schedule for Centre City Development Corporation. The redevelopment agency agreed to start repaying it’s debt to the city in four years. The proceeds, says the press release, will go toward meeting ADA projects in downtown.
DeMaio concluded by letting the mayor and his colleagues on the city council know that more proposals are on the way.
“I will provide additional cost-saving options to help balance our city’s budget and restore its long-term fiscal health. I look forward to working with my colleagues throughout the coming year in incorporating each councilmember’s individual priorities in the ultimate budget we adopt.”