"Pondering the ballot questions"
suggests that voters vote no to Question 8 on today's primary election ballot. The question asks voters to approve a $130 million borrowing to fund the city's fiscal 2006 and 2007 capital budgets.
The city urges you to vote YES on ballot question No. 8.
What do these funds pay for? Philadelphia is a big city with many assets. The city maintains more than 470 structures ranging from police and fire stations to SEPTA facilities. Our capital budget pays for streets and bridges and electrical repairs at the zoo.
Why do we borrow at all? Capital projects are expensive. The final cost to roof and repoint City Hall will exceed $85 million!
The city will spend $52 million replacing the South Street Bridge. We borrow money for capital projects to spread the cost over time rather than paying for it all at once. This is standard fiscal practice for governments across the country. The amount we borrow is limited by law and finance-industry standards.
The alternative "pay-as-you-go" would force the city to fund more than $50 million annually for these projects out of operating revenues, largely from taxes. This will put more strain on the resources the city uses to pay for police, trash pickup, after-school programs, libraries and health centers.
The Daily News argues that approving debt "puts the onus of finding money on voters, rather than Council and the administration." Wrong. We ask the voters for approval because state law requires the city to get voter approval for this debt.
Why are we borrowing such a large sum, $130 million? The city has not had a borrowing request on the ballot since November 2004. With no new authorization since 2004, the administration has been forced to defer almost 200 projects citywide.
The need for capital funds has reached the critical point. I urge you to vote YES on ballot question No. 8 today!
Joyce Wilkerson, Chief of Staff
to Mayor John F. Street
Sixers' missing ingredients
Can you believe it? The NBA published its first three all-star teams plus 20-some also-rans and nary a Sixer was present. Sure, they underestimated Andre Iguodala, but they got the rest of it right, and a team without more of an all-star presence is not a serious contender.
The young Sixers of a few years ago have had time to mature and have some bench utility, but we are not going to the playoffs without an AI type and a solid big guy.
Walter J. Gershenfeld, Philadelphia