Controller calls for $1.2 million to fix police buildings
A plastic bag, rigged to catch dripping water, still hangs from the pipes of the Ninth District. Duct tape still holds together a broken electrical outlet in the 39th District.
A plastic bag, rigged to catch dripping water, still hangs from the pipes of the Ninth District.
Duct tape still holds together a broken electrical outlet in the 39th District.
And cockroaches still roam the halls of the 22d District.
Four years after declaring Philadelphia's aging police buildings to be "substandard and dangerous," City Controller Alan Butkovitz said Wednesday that many of the problems remained - and some had grown worse.
At a minimum, Butkovitz called for the city to correct numerous fire-code violations - including blocked exit doors - and to spend $1.2 million to resolve dangerous electrical problems and repair leaking roofs.
He said the city "has a moral obligation" to make the repairs, despite the current budget woes.
"I still find it unacceptable that men and women who put their lives on the line every day . . . are forced to work in these substandard, if not unsafe, working conditions," he said.
Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison said the city had spent $13 million in the last two years to upgrade police, fire, and prison facilities.
"The money we have spent, we have spent wisely."
Gillison said he had spoken to the police commissioner about the blocked fire exits, which often are clogged with file cabinets and boxes.
"These things will be remedied," he said. "That shouldn't be tolerated - period."
Butkovitz called on the city to request nearly $4 million available from the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) for "critical renovations to police facilities."
But Gillison said that money had been earmarked. He said $3.5 million would be spent on "mechanical projects," such as upgrades to the electrical and heating and air systems at various districts. The remaining money would pay for a new roof at the 22d District.
"There's no money the city has been sitting on," he said. "It's quite the opposite."
Butkovitz's office last inspected police facilities in 2006, producing a highly critical report. His office examined 23 police buildings again this year and found the conditions to be little changed.
Gillison said the maintenance problems were long-standing and expensive. In a 2007 report, PICA estimated that police buildings needed $25 million to $40 million worth of repairs to bring them up to "working condition," he said.
"There's no money for that," Gillison said.
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey has lamented the dilapidated condition of many of the police department's buildings since his arrival in 2008.
Ramsey also has backed a city plan to move Police Headquarters from the cramped and deteriorating "Roundhouse" building at Eighth and Race Streets to the Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co. building in West Philadelphia.
That plan, however, would require the city to find $70 million for renovations, which is unlikely.
Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, noted that most district headquarters not only suffered from age, but also absorbed more "wear and tear" than the typical office building.
"These buildings run 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said. "We never close."