You Close the Deficit: Ken Weinstein
It's Our Money is asking various experts and advocates to share some suggestions for how the city should deal with the $31 million deficit it has projected for this fiscal year (and remember, because it's the middle of a fiscal year, the city can't raise taxes). This recommendation comes from Ken Weinstein, a local real estate developer and business owner who served on Mayor Nutter's finance committee during the mayoral campaign.
You have to go back many years to find a recession as bad as this one in terms of negatively impacting the city's revenues. I have a couple of ideas that will not only get us past our current jam, but will make us a stronger city financially in the years to come.
Sell the more than 12,000 city owned properties that are vacant and not producing tax revenues to private and non profit developers and homeowners. Some of these properties are junk, but many have real value. This will not produce $31 million this year, but it will improve our tax base for years to come. Philadelphia's Public Property Department should follow the lead of the Re-development Authority (RDA) by making properties available on its website.
Lay off City workers. We need to live within our means. In private industry, if revenues drop, payroll must drop. Why should our city be any different? We might just find that we can actually produce more services for citizens by employing a leaner, more focused group of workers. I don't buy the argument that every layoff means that services have to be cut. Smaller can be better!
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