City Controller Alan Butkovitz yesterday said that Philadelphia could reduce the city deficit by up to $413 million, largely through better fee collection.
Butkovitz released an analysis of past audits done by the controller's office, noting that the findings might help the city reduce the more than $1 billion budget gap.
Butkovitz said that there was $73 million that the city could get in one-time collections as well as $68 million in new annual revenue. In addition, Butkovitz said that there is $117 million owed to the Water Department in delinquent collections.
"I think that there's a lot of room for increased savings," Butkovitz said.
But Doug Oliver, a spokesman for Mayor Nutter, said that many of Butkovitz's suggestions had already been reviewed.
"Many of the recommendations made in the report, the administration has already included in its process," Oliver said. "We always appreciate these ideas, but are surprised that the controller didn't share them with the mayor in his private meeting two weeks ago."
Oliver added: "That this was released to the media and not to the administration leads me to think it is little more than a publicity stunt."
Butkovitz's suggestions included:
* Pursue more vigorously delinquent water customers, for a one-time savings of $117 million.
* Process tax checks more quickly within the Revenue Department to realize interest for an annual savings of $1 million.
* Use a paperless paycheck system for a recurring benefit of $400,000.
* Increase ambulance reimbursement rates and improve Fire Department billing for a recurring benefit of $46 million.
Finance Director Rob Dubow said that as all the recommendations came from old audits, the administration has reviewed them and is already doing many of the things suggested.
Dubow said that there is a new billing system at the Water Department, the Revenue Department has hired additional temporary staff and bought new equipment to process tax checks more rapidly and that more than 70 percent of city employees are paid through direct deposit. *