The state board that oversees the city's finances gave its stamp of approval on the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works at its Tuesday meeting.
The Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) board will be sending a letter to Philadelphia City Council, which must approve the proposed $1.9 billion sale of PGW, expressing its support of the sale in hopes that Council seals the deal.
Mayor Nutter wants to sell the 176-year-old utility to use the proceeds to reduce the city's pension obligations. There is a tentative deal with UIL Holdings, Inc.
The sale is opposed by the gas workers' union, low-income advocates, and opponents of private ownership, all of whom have been putting pressure on council to say no to the sale. City Council is paying a Boston-area consultant $425,000 to review the deal.
At Tuesday's Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) meeting, administration officials gave a seven-page presentation highlighting what they consider to be the benefits of the sale, including no layoffs for three years and paying at least $420 million into the pension fund.
Suzanne Biemiller, who has been leading the sale talks for the administration, told PICA board members after the presentation that there is an urgency in having City Council approve the sale.
"There is a risk they \[UIL Holding\] could walk away on July 15," Biemiller said.
New board member Lawrence Tabas, who Gov. Corbett appointed to replace Sam Katz who stepped down in February, was not in attendance at his first meeting. But he was on conference call at the meeting and said he too was in full support of the sale. The sale is "very consistent" with the board's view to reduce pension obligations, Tabas said.
Board vice chair Michael Karp asked Beimiller if there was anything PICA could do to help the administration in getting council's support for the sale.
"People on council aren't numbers people," Karp said. "I would be happy to meet with council people to explain the numbers."
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