Then-Mayor John Street last year put up $1.3 million in tax money to hire 8,000 youths in a summer-jobs program designed to reduce street violence. In 2006, Street promised $1.6 million to hire more staff at city health centers.
Those jobs - the youths were hired, the health-center staffers were not - could have been paid for if the city had just been more efficient about cashing checks.
City Controller Alan Butkovitz yesterday released a review of the city's Department of Revenue that found that checks for taxes sometimes were not deposited into city bank accounts for 30, 60 or even 100 days.
Butkovitz said that the delay had cost the city $1.3 million in lost interest last year and almost $1.6 million in 2006.
"There's no excuse for 10 days or 20 days," said Butkovitz, who launched the review after hearing complaints from residents who had to wait long periods for their tax checks to clear.
"It just shows a lack of appreciation in the overnight value of large amounts of money."
Mayor Nutter agrees, and said that he had heard the same complaints.
"Obviously that's not good policy, and it's not good money management," said Nutter, who emphasized that the review focused on the last administration's record.
"I'd much rather have that money in our bank account gaining interest than sitting in someone else's [account]."
Nutter said that he wants the Revenue Department to get check processing down to about two weeks.
He's looking at upgrading equipment and adding workers during peak processing times to accomplish that.
Butkovitz said that he found two weeks to be "kind of disappointing" as a goal, citing policies in Cleveland and Baltimore that require checks to be deposited in city accounts within 24 hours.
But Butkovitz was pleased that Nutter recognized the problem and is working to fix it. *