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City Council approved a $275M budget transfer. Here’s what’s in it.

The biggest chunk of the infusion — $210 million — will go to shore up the pension fund. Another bucket of dollars will prop up dozens of the city's arts and cultural institutions.

City Councilmembers Brian O’Neill (left) and Mark Squilla speak in September. On Thursday, the body approved a midyear budget transfer that shores up the city's pension fund, among other investments.
City Councilmembers Brian O’Neill (left) and Mark Squilla speak in September. On Thursday, the body approved a midyear budget transfer that shores up the city's pension fund, among other investments.Read moreHeather Khalifa / Staff Photographer

Philadelphia City Council on Thursday approved a $275 million budget transfer that comes halfway through the fiscal year and will largely go toward shoring up the city’s pension fund.

The biggest chunk — $210 million — aims to make up for investment returns on the city’s pension fund that were lower than expected. An additional $50 million will be split between the city’s rainy day fund and a separate account set aside to help the city weather inflation.

Most of the remaining cash will go to a variety of museums and cultural centers, including $3 million for the Sayre-Morris pool in West Philadelphia, $3 million to the African American Museum of Philadelphia, and $3 million to the Dell Music Center in Strawberry Mansion.

The Philadelphia Zoo, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Please Touch Museum, Visit Philadelphia, and the Marian Anderson Museum are also among the more than 30 entities receiving additional funding.

» READ MORE: Philly’s budget is in its best shape in years. But Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration is worried about future risks.

Council’s unanimous approval of the legislation, which lawmakers typically undertake halfway through the fiscal year to balance the budget and provide additional funding to programs, comes as Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration has struggled to spend money — even though the city is sitting on an unprecedented fund balance.

The city finished the last fiscal year with $779 million left unspent, and officials project the fund balance will decline to about $500 million after this fiscal year. The city’s projected to take in about $5.73 billion in revenue.

There are a handful of reasons the city has found itself flush with cash, including higher-than-expected tax revenue and staffing vacancies across the municipal workforce. City officials told Council’s Committee on Appropriations that nearly 1 in 5 city jobs are unfilled, a shortage that is affecting delivery of services across the government.

Advocates for the arts applauded the legislation. Jane Golden, the longtime director of Mural Arts Philadelphia, jumped up and down in excitement in Council chambers Thursday and thanked the body for allocating an additional $300,000.

She said the investment would allow Mural Arts to expand programs, including one that provides paid apprenticeships to young people who have been incarcerated.

“Public art has the power to inspire and ignite change,” she said. “I am confident that together we will continue to ignite change and make our city more beautiful, more resilient, more hopeful for years to come.”

Also included in the ordinance is about $3.5 million for the District Attorney’s Office in addition to its $44.3 million budget, mainly to cover increasing labor costs, and nearly $500,000 to fund security cameras near recreation centers and playgrounds.

» READ MORE: Philadelphia will commission a study of its pay scale amid city government staffing struggles

Council and the administration have for months wrangled over how aggressive the city should be in its spending plans. The administration has been cautious amid economic uncertainty and fears of a looming recession, but some members of Council have pressed for more robust investments in city programs, especially those related to public safety.

Before voting in favor of the transfer ordinance, several members chided the Kenney administration, saying the city has not fully implemented antiviolence or public safety-related programs already funded by Council.

“We have done our part,” said Councilmember Curtis Jones Jr., the Democratic majority leader. “But we have to get more accountability about those dollars. Because if it ain’t working, we need to rethink what we’re doing.”

Staff writer Sean Collins Walsh contributed to this article.

Correction: This story was updated to reflect the correct projected fund balance for the end of fiscal year 2023.