City Council members yesterday thumbed their noses at Mayor Nutter's assertion that the city cannot afford to shoulder the cost of parades and festivals.
Led by Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Quinones-Sanchez, Council overrode Nutter's veto of legislation that would force the city to pay police costs for special events.
The vote was 14-3 in favor of the override, with Councilmen W. Wilson Goode Jr., Curtis Jones Jr. and Jack Kelly voting no.
After Nutter vetoed the bill last week, Quinones-Sanchez met with the administration to try to reach a compromise. But Quinones-Sanchez - who says her main concern is protecting neighborhood events with limited resources - said they had not found common ground.
"I voted for a tax increase," she said yesterday. "I gave this mayor 100-million dollars. After nine months, the administration has not been able to come to a fair resolution."
Mayoral spokesman Doug Oliver said Council was putting unfair financial pressure on the city.
"The best intentions of the entire city were overridden today," said Oliver. "The legislation ignores the fact that the city has no money. We agree that parades and special events are important. They're not as important as police and firefighters."
Nutter announced in 2008 that the city would start charging for police and sanitation costs related to special events, due to financial constraints. It was a controversial announcement, particularly for the city's ethnic parades like St. Patrick's Day and Puerto Rican Day.
Under the newly passed legislation, the city would not be able to seek payment for police, but could charge for sanitation, equipment or other costs.
Quinones-Sanchez said that the police costs that have been billed to events have been excessive. She said that based on police data, the 72 neighborhood and ethnic events in the city last year cost the city less than $200,000. That does not include the Mummer's Parade.
Quinones-Sanchez and the administration had been trying to find an agreement that split costs among event sponsors, the city and a new nonprofit set up by U.S. Rep. Bob Brady recently to help cover parade costs. That fund - the Greater Philadelphia Traditions Fund - was awarded $500,000 by philanthropist H.F "Gerry" Lenfest. It will provide aid to the Mummers and ethnic parades and festivals.
Council yesterday also unanimously approved legislation to close a pension loophole that allowed outgoing Managing Director Camille Barnett to buy into the system after just two years service.
Barnett, who is set to leave the city government June 30, will receive a lifetime pension of $49,880 after paying $120,451 into the system. The perk was available due to rules that allow employees to count service in other municipalities.
Under the new legislation - which will not impact Barnett - employees must serve the city for five years before they can buy into the pension program.