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What Do the Plans for BRT Patronage Workers Mean?

So could Mayor Nutter's move to bring patronage workers at the Board of Revision of Taxes into the city civil service have a broader impact?

Nutter Monday outlined plans to move 76 patronage workers at the Board of Revision of Taxes on to the city payroll. Currently those employees do BRT work, but are paid by the School District, a set-up which allows them to do political work. Many received their jobs through Democratic and Republican elected officials.

Nutter said that following a review by City Solicitor Shelley Smith, those workers have been deemed city employees. He said they would have to apply for civil service jobs at the BRT and take an exam.

"They should be on the city payroll and subject to the same rules and regulations as city employees," Nutter said at a press conference.

But the BRT folks aren't the only people doing city work who are not on the city dime. For example, there are six people at the City Controller's office, also being paid by the School District.

Will they have to take civil service exams too? Not exactly…

The city has avoided making any ruling on other workers. Smith did not release a formal written opinion on the BRT situation, despite telling City Council she planned to do so.

Mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver said the administration was concerned about how an opinion might be interpreted.

"The city wanted to avoid unintended consequences which might occur when the answer to a very narrow and well defined concern is applied broadly without thorough case-by-case analysis," he said in an email. "Ultimately, it was found that we could answer the narrowly focused BRT question without having to have a broadly applied written opinion."

Zack Stalberg, CEO of the watchdog group Committee of Seventy, questioned the lack of an opinion.

"I think a written opinion on this would be better and probably would help drive change in some of these other dark corners of city government where some odd arrangements still apply," said Stalberg, who added that all workers should be living under the same rules.