What’s happening in Philadelphia City Council: Week of June 4 – June 8

Featured Hearing: Public Hearing on Property Taxes and the Philly Schools
Tuesday, June 5 at 3 p.m., Room 400, City Hall

Council’s deliberations on whether or not to send $94 million to the Philly schools by authorizing Mayor Nutter’s new property assessment system kick off again on Tuesday afternoon. We told you about these proposals in “Crunch Time in City Council Part I and Part II” last week. Take another look at them since 16 proposed bills will be debated during Tuesday’s mega-hearing.

City Council President Darrell Clarke said he wants Council to resolve the issue this week. It will be a test of his leadership to see if he can deliver.

There are some new wrinkles since last week’s “Crunch Time” Council updates: the School Reform Commission, which governs the public schools, passed a very lean $2.3 billion 2012-2013 budget last Thursday. Included are plans to lay off 2,700 employees who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ. In a resolution passed last week, Council threatened to withhold funds unless the SRC resolved its issues with 32BJ and reversed the cuts to staff, many of whom are city voters.

As we always remind you (forgive the repetition), Council hearings are aired live on Channel 64, which is the city’s government access channel. If you have a computer or can get to one, you can hear them here.

Or you can go to Room 400 in City Hall and listen in person. You can even speak out (for three minutes) on any of the bills being considered that day. Read about how to participate here.

Here’s what else is going on in City Council this week (all hearings are in Room 400):

Tuesday, June 5 at 10:00 a.m.: Public Health and Human Services Committee

Resolution No. 120222: Proposes hearings focused on Philadelphia’s high number of intergenerational households, where – according the resolution – household members are more likely to live in poverty, seniors often experience stress, and children who are students are not well supported in their academic work.

Resolution No. 120493: Calls for hearings in response to reports that the Department of Human Services has stopped considering job applicants with Master of Health Degrees earned from Lincoln University.

Tuesday, June 5 at 2:00 P.M: Environment Committee

Bill No. 120428: Proposes implementing an environmental internet-based benchmarking system to track water and energy usage in certain buildings in Philadelphia. Performance will be monitored and evaluated by the Office of Sustainability.

Wednesday, June 6 at 10:00 p.m.: Law and Government Committee

Bill No. 120108 and Resolution No. 120119: A proposed amendment to the City Charter would compel the production of performance and cost-benefit analyses with the city’s annual operating budget. The full text would read:
Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to authorize the creation by ordinance of requirements for additional information to be submitted with the annual operating budget, annual capital budget, and capital program, including, but not limited to, information about the cost of performing specific functions, the effectiveness of such functions, and the costs versus benefits of proposed expenditures, and to require the Finance Director to provide such information?

Wednesday, June 6 at 2:00 P.M.: Finance Committee

Bill No. 120434: Green lights the city’s  Director of Housing and Director of Commerce to apply for state and federal grant programs including: the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant program, HOME Investment Partnership program and Emergency Solutions Grant program and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS grant program; and several Commonwealth of Pennsylvania grants.

Thursday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m.: Council of the Whole’s regularly scheduled weekly meeting  

Here are some interesting items are on the schedule for final passage:  

Resolution No. 120118: Authorizes Council’s Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities to conduct hearings to allow more public discussion on selling Philadelphia Gas Works to a private entity. Mayor Nutter has pushed forward plans to sell PGW and a recent study by a private consultant contracted by the city calculates the sale could net the city $496 million in a “best case scenario.” But there could be drawbacks. The resolution cautions that a sale might harm protections offered to PGW’s 514,000 customers, including its Senior Citizen Discount Program and all Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) mandated discount programs, and to PGW’s 1,875 employees.

Resolution No. 120539: Increases compensation for poll workers on Election Day. Currently, the five members of the Election Board are paid $6.78, below the $7.25 federal minimum wage, and have not received raises since 1999, despite a 2002 Pennsylvania law permitting counties to increase pay and a class action lawsuit against the city contending that the pay scale for poll workers violates Philadelphia’s 21st Century Minimum Wage Ordinance. The Philadelphia City Commissioners, who run elections, are pushing for the pay increase.

Bill No. 120327: Grants City Council the power to designate bike lanes on City Streets. This bill, sponsored by Councilman Bill Greenlee, would give Council power currently exercised by the Streets Department under direction from the mayor.

Thursday, June 7 at 2:00 p.m.: Streets and Services Committee

The Streets and Services Committee routinely hears too many bills to list in this update. To see a complete list, click here.

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