PHILADELPHIA – Mayor Kenney today delivered to Philadelphia City Council the Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget, capital program and Five Year Plan that propose vital new investments in the City’s public schools, police and fire departments, and infrastructure.
A primary focus of the spending plan is the proposal for a historic investment in the Philadelphia School District. This investment will provide financial stability for the District over the next five years so our students and our schools can continue building on the real progress they’ve made in recent years.
“Philadelphia’s graduation rate is the highest it’s been in more than a decade, and our 3rd grade reading scores have surpassed statewide gains,” said Mayor Kenney. “We can’t turn back–we must build on this momentum.”
“With these investments, we will expect to see continued progress each year, with more students reading on grade level, graduating, and successfully transitioning into college and careers. Neighborhoods will flourish around a growing number of successful schools. Families will know they have quality educational options for their kids, and businesses will know their future workers are getting the training and skills they need to succeed.”
Ensuring the financial stability of our schools will enable the City to push forward with the School District’s Action Plan 3.0 — a plan that has generated early successes in literacy, college and career readiness, and staffing. It will also bring vital new investments, including:
- Increasing early literacy: Specialized reading coaches for every elementary school, and expanding the focus on early literacy into grades 4 and 5.
- College and career readiness: Expanded and improved CTE programs, apprenticeship programs, IT internships and other high school pathways opportunities. Expanded college access through advanced placement courses, free SAT testing, and a middle-college program where high school students can earn an associate’s degree; More opportunities for more student to have career exposure and work experiences in summer and year-round. Additional 9th grade academies that provide academic supports and counseling and reduce the risk of dropping out.
- Creating safe and welcoming environments: School climate investments to enhance positive and safe school cultures. Capital improvements, including upgraded elementary classrooms, to address our schools’ many physical building needs.
- Bilingual supports: More bilingual counseling assistants to provide bilingual services and support to families and additional ELL teachers to ensure students are acquiring needed English language skills
- High quality instruction: Supports for teachers including training for high school teachers to increase student achievement and engagement and funding to continue efforts to increase the diversity and quality of our teaching workforce.
To ensure the stability of the school system, the Mayor proposed that the City turn to its own general fund to increase its annual contribution to the District by $20 million annually, totalling an additional $100 million over five years. He also proposes to reduce the amount of planned wage tax rate reductions, and to use the savings from the lower rate of reductions to increase the District’s contribution by almost $340 million over five years.
The Administration further proposes to increase the Real Estate Transfer tax to generate an additional $66 million, as well as increase the Property tax by 6% to generate an additional $475 million. This roughly $980 million package is proposed to ensure that Philadelphia’s students have the resources to thrive.
“I know for many residents, this will be a sacrifice. I vow to work with City Council to protect low-income homeowners,” said the Mayor. “We will expand housing counseling and outreach with $2.5 million in foreclosure prevention programs. We will boost funding to the Philadelphia Land Bank by nearly $4 million. And we’ll expand the Homestead exemption in light of growing home values.”
For the average residential property owner, the proposed property tax increase would mean an additional $95 a year. If they are enrolled in the Homestead Exemption program at its current level, it works out to an additional $70 year – or less than 6 dollars a month.
With limited funding available beyond the City’s investment in Philadelphia’s children, the Administration has prioritized other investments that will make Philadelphia safer, help move residents out of poverty, combat the opioid and homelessness crises, and improve the delivery of existing services to taxpayers.
Increased Resources for the Police Department:
- Almost $100 million over 5 years to the Police Department to grow the number of sworn police officers to 6,525 and to fund that staffing level throughout the Plan.
- Capital and 911 funding for the renovation of a building to house the 911 Training Center.
- Funding for the relocation of Police Headquarters to 400 N. Broad Street.
Increased Resources for the Fire Department:
- $54 million over 5 years to the Fire Department to support a total of 2,661 positions, a 24% increase in Fire’s personnel budget since Mayor Kenney took office.
- Staffing investments include paramedics and firefighters, but also managerial positions, dedicated training and health/safety positions, and a full-time Medical Director.
- Annual capital investments of $10 million to replace Fire vehicles, including ambulances, engines and ladders.
- Funding for a Logistics Hub, which will include training space, vehicle storage, and a central location for operational command.
Preventing Traffic Fatalities:
- $60 million of operating and capital investments for the Streets Department to support the goal of Vision Zero by redesigning streets and sidewalks and incorporating traffic calming measures (such as delineators and speed cushions).
Improving Child Welfare:
- $1.5 million in annual investments, matched with almost $9 million of federal and state grants, for DHS. This would fund increases for foster care providers, which would allow for additional staff to focus on parent recruitment, screening and training. This funding would also fund expanded Family Empowerment Services, including the addition of 16 additional case managers.
- $2 million annual increase in demolition funding for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, to permit the Department to demolish up to 650 unsafe properties, focusing on those imminently dangerous structures
Additional Funding for the Community College of Philadelphia:
- $1.5 million annual increase for CCP, allowing the College to keep tuition as low as possible. The College will continue workforce training and increase the ability of Philadelphia students to gain critical skills — programs that are aligned with “Fueling Philadelphia’s Talent Engine,” the City’s cross-functional, citywide workforce strategy.
City as Model Employer:
- Additional investments in the Office of Fleet Management apprenticeship program.
- Increasing the wages of seasonal employees within the Department of Parks and Recreation to a living wage.
- Continuing funding for the Fair Chance Hiring Initiative, which provides grants to employers to encourage the hiring of returning citizens.
Protections for Low-Income Homeowners:
- Increasing the homestead exemption from $30,000 of assessed value to $40,000, which will reduce the tax burden on Philadelphia homeowners in light of growing home values.
- $2.5 million investment in foreclosure prevention programs.
- FY19 increased funding of $3.8 million to the Philadelphia Land Bank.
Road Repair and Trash Collection:
- Operating and capital dollars will enable the Streets Department to reach the goal of resurfacing and paving 131 miles annually, getting to a state of good repair.
- Expanded grants staff for the Streets Department will enable the Department to access and utilize more external grant funding for capital projects, stretching local taxpayer resources even further.
- Capital funds will allow for the replacement of additional trash compactors, allowing the City to be on a full compactor replacement schedule in the next 4-5 years.
- $4.5 million is included for the District Attorney’s Office over 5 years, to support reform efforts in regard to staffing and technology systems.
- Increased funding for programs in line with the grant provided by the MacArthur Foundation is also included in the Plan.
The FY19 budget documents can be found here.