The Nutter Just Doesn't Have a Clue
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER iS facing still another setback in his campaign to punish the city's firefighters. The firefighters have been working for three years without a contract nor any cost-of-living (COLA) raises and recent arbitration settlements have been ignored by the mayor's office. The legal arbitraition awarded the FF's an annual 3% COLA's backdated to the beginning of the current non-contract period. After Nutter filed an appeal to the measly COLA, the arbitration panel admonished him and upheld their original settlement.
However, in order to continue to receive State funding and benefits for all agencies, the city's budget has to be approved by the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation :Authority (PICA) and they are refusing to accept the mayor's latest, and vague, plans to fund the mandated raises. The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting this morning:
The Nutter administration avoided a showdown with its financial overseer Thursday by adding a postscript to its five-year budget indicating how the city would pay for any salary and benefit increases for firefighters.
The addendum says drastic cuts would fund an arbitration award the firefighters won in June. Those cuts would include hundreds of layoffs, the slashing of library hours, and the closure of a health center, according to Finance Director Rob Dubow.
Board members of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), which must approve the city's annual five-year plans to keep state funding flowing to Philadelphia, balked at not having a way to pay the firefighters.
One member, Sam Hopkins, scoffed at the addendum. "I am not impressed with this list of cuts as being responsive," he said. "I consider it a political scare technique that it would be a great disservice for PICA to accept in the five-year plan."
Board Chairman Sam Katz said he hoped such reductions would not be necessary. "It would be draconian for the city to have to implement that level of cuts," he said. "I suspect there will be other options that we discuss over the next couple weeks."
The incompetence of the city council, and especially the mayor's administration, is accelerating Philadelphia's attempt to remain solvent.
Bill Gault, president of Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, called the proposed reductions "crazy" and said they would put firefighters' lives in peril. "It seems to me this administration is very vindictive," Gault said. "What they've decided to do is keep stalling this and stalling this."
City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who this week called on PICA to vote down the five-year plan, said a list of cuts did not constitute a plan to fund the firefighters' contract. "First of all, are they saying what they'll actually do?" he asked. "And, if they do, would it add up?"
He also noted that the administration had suggested the rolling closure of libraries and deactivating fire companies, proposals that "we know create public resentment."
PICA is planning to reconvene in about two weeks to see if the city will present solid plans to fund not just the fire department, but all other city agencies that are operaing under cloudy budgetary plans.
Full article in Philadelphia Inquirer.
Firegeezer posting on Nutter gives top aides secret pay raises HERE.
Fiscal overseer balking at Philly’s budget plan HERE.
City comptroller blasts mayor's "preposterous" inaction. KYW report HERE.
Firegeezer October 2010 report: Philly Mayor Renews Feud With Paramedics.
IAFF Local 22 WEBSITE.
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