For Lynne M. Abraham, budget season was always a bit like Groundhog Day.
For 18 years, the former Philadelphia district attorney dragged herself before City Council to ask for more money than the mayor had allotted, and usually walked away with zilch after a stormy hearing or two.
And it didn't matter if the mayor in office was Ed Rendell, John F. Street or Michael Nutter. "It was fairly consistent that our budget was cut most years," Abraham recalled.
But her successor, Seth Williams, is finding himself in a different position — with Nutter last week proposing to give him an unheard of extra $1.9 million. That is about the same amount of money being cut from the city prisons' department.
"It is additional money the administration has commited to support changes the D.A. is leading, reforms in certain areas," Budget Director Rebecca Rhynhart said.
It also means Williams won't have to make any cuts next year — despite that he is on target to spend $1.4 million more than the $29 million City Council gave him this year.
Most of the spending stems from personnel costs, with the district attorney's office now supporting a payroll of 426 people, five more than budgeted.
What gives? "You'll have to ask the mayor," said Abraham, now practicing at Archer & Greiner. As for the district attorney's office's $31 million budget next year, she said: "I don't know if it's an all-time high, but it's probably close."