Philadelphia City Council on Thursday approved a $5 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2020, an increase of $300 million from the current budget that officials said was necessary to cover spiking salary and benefits costs, as well as bolster antipoverty initiatives.
The hike means that the city’s general fund budget has grown by $1 billion, or 25 percent, since Mayor Jim Kenney took office in 2016.
The Kenney administration and several Council members defend the growth in spending, saying many of the increases are simply restorations of cuts made during the recession. Fixed costs such as pensions and health care have also gone up, together by nearly $200 million. Payroll has increased by more than $250 million, in part due to raises negotiated with labor unions. And Kenney has increased the city’s contribution to the School District by $122 million.