Mayor Nutter today sent out this email to his campaign mailing list:
I want to wish you and your family a happy holiday season, and a healthy, prosperous new year.
As 2009 comes to a close, I also want to thank you for everything you've done to make Philadelphia a better place to live. The effects of the global financial crisis and ongoing recession made this year extremely challenging for all of us, but I'm incredibly proud of the way that Philadelphians have come together, made tough choices and worked to improve our city.
With the help of City Council, Governor Rendell, and our Legislators in Harrisburg, we maintained these important principles for managing the City budget:
Selected cuts in the budget minimized disruption in essential City service delivery;
Held the line against increases in the City Wage Tax and Business Privilege Tax; and
Imposed a 1% increase in the sales tax rate as the most progressive means of raising revenue to cover an unprecedented budget deficit
We ended the City Council session this year with a consensus bill to reform the way property values are set for real estate tax purposes. If approved by the voters, the new system will be more transparent and equitable for homeowners and commercial property owners.
Even in the face of budgetary challenges, we moved forward on a number of my key agenda items:
When I ran for Mayor, I repeatedly said that public safety would be my highest priority. Now, two years after taking office, Philadelphia is a much safer city. Thanks to the work of Commissioner Charles Ramsey and the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department, we've seen a double digit decline in violent crime, including a more than 20% drop in homicides since I took office.
By targeting resources to higher crime areas, the Police Department is also solving crimes more quickly. That will allow us to build on our success as we remove violent offenders from the neighborhoods.
Economic Development and Growth
The national housing slowdown that triggered a record number of mortgage foreclosures has not impacted our City to the same degree experienced in other cities. Working with the Philadelphia court system, we successfully launched a homeowner protection strategy that provided the opportunity for homeowners to renegotiate mortgage loans with banks. Our program drew national attention as an innovative plan to prevent foreclosures.
We've worked with Carl Greene and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) on targeted new development in the City. PHA received a large amount of federal stimulus dollars that went directly into new construction projects in neighborhoods. We'll continue to work together to address the waiting list for those looking for suitable family and senior housing.
We're also making great strides toward my goal of making Philadelphia a greener city. Our Greenworks Philadelphia program merges the goals of environmental progress with economic benefit. Using Federal stimulus funds, we're training workers and putting them back to work in new green collar jobs. Jobs like weatherizing the homes of Philadelphia residents to lower heating bills and reduce energy usage.
As part of our Greenworks effort, Governor Rendell and I recently announced the construction of a new solar panel manufacturing facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard that will bring new, well-paying jobs to Philadelphia. These green collar jobs will be an important part of the future growth of our city, which is why it's critical for Philadelphia to show our commitment to sustainability, alternative energy and the green economy.
Licenses and Inspections, under new Commissioner Fran Burns, is leading a major reform in the delivery of customer services. We're streamlining permit approvals and eliminating red tape. It's part of my plan to encourage entrepreneurs to open new businesses in the City.
We refocused efforts to reduce truancy and improve educational attainment. My Office of Education worked with the Chamber of Commerce to create summer internship opportunities for 1650 high school students.
Goals for 2010
We have some additional budget issues to address in 2010, but I am committed to resolving those with our municipal workforce and the help of City Council. I am optimistic that we will stabilize our budget for the long term in 2010 and will refocus our efforts on job growth and development, public safety, and education opportunity.
I am also committed to a more active engagement with you in 2010 through email. We'll need your help passing the real estate tax reform ballot measure, and I welcome your suggestions on how to make this a better city. If you're on Facebook, please click here to join my supporter page and stay in touch.
I hope you have a very safe and happy New Year's Eve. Don't forget there will be two fireworks shows at Penn's Landing tonight - one at 6 pm and another at midnight. Please join us for one or both!
Thank you for your support and for all you do for Philadelphia.
Mayor, City of Philadelphia