If enacted, it'll be an admission fee like no other.

Seeking ways to raise revenue, Philadelphia Prisons Commissioner Louis Giorla floated a proposal yesterday to charge criminals money to get in to city jails.

That was enough to stump city Managing Director Camille Barnett.

"Does anyone actually charge admission to get into jail?" asked Barnett, who listened to Giorla's proposal during a nearly three-hour public budget meeting focusing on spending by the Prisons, Police and Fire Departments.

In fact, Giorla responded, some prisons do charge admission fees, although he did not immediately identify them.

At first, Mayor Nutter, who was also at the meeting held in the Municipal Service Building, snickered and held his head in his hands.

After the meeting, however, the mayor said: "It is certainly something to be explored."

One previous study found Philadelphia inmates had an average of $35 on hand during the intake process, Giorla said. Acknowledging that many offenders wouldn't be able to pay, he estimated the so-called admission fee would generate $300,000 a year.

Giorla also discussed the challenges his department faced as it deals with a staff of correction officers that cannot keep pace with the growing inmate population, which numbered 9,687 as of Tuesday night.

Among the areas he identified as possible places to save money was the Mayor's Office for the Reentry of Ex-offenders. The Prisons Department budget funds $1.2 million of the reentry office's spending. The rest, $400,000, comes from government grants.

Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, acknowledged that eliminating the office would run counter to the administration's goal of reducing crime by helping ex-offenders get jobs and otherwise readapt to society.

Although Gillison said disbanding the office remained a possibility, Nutter after the meeting that it was not.

"We are not going to eliminate it," he said. "I'm not saying it won't take a cut. I'm saying we will have a reentry office."

Both issues - the admission-fee proposal and the fate of the reentry office - were discussed during the second of three PhillyStat meetings that Nutter is holding to focus on the spending plans of specific city departments as his administration grapples with closing a $1 billion budget gap in the next five years.

Nutter asked each city department head to assess the impact of budget cuts of 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent on their services and programs.

Most of the discussion yesterday, however, revolved around cuts of 10 percent.

Last night, the public weighed in on the city's budget problems during a community budget forum organized by the University of Pennsylvania Project on Civic Engagement.

Held at Mastery Charter School in Germantown, it was the second of four such forums designed to allow residents to influence the city's 2010 budget before the mayor officially delivers it to City Council.

About 500 people - 200 more than expected - attended the workshop, which began shortly after 7 p.m. in the gym.

Though the crowd was diverse, it was also heavily attended by activists (such as parks and homeless-services supporters) and city employees. Attendees broke into small groups, where they were presented with dozens of budget-cutting and revenue-raising options and asked which they would choose to close the city's budget deficit.

By and large, the groups were quicker to take spending cuts off the table than they were to make them, and many people said they were willing to accept tax hikes to preserve core services.

There was near-unanimous agreement that fire and police budgets should not be cut, and a general reluctance to cut library, parks, health and recreation funding as well.

The most frequently identified targets were the city's controversial retirement program, known as DROP, the $8 million the city claims it is owed by the Eagles, and cuts to the city's vehicle fleet.

The mayor has said he will consider all the feedback.