Philadelphia outlines potential staffing and budget cuts to afford firefighter contract
August 9, 2012By Holly Otterbein
It's Our Money
What would happen if the city of Philadelphia loses its appeal of an arbitration award to firefighters? Some deep cuts could be on the way.
Earlier this week, Sam Katz, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) said board members were concerned that Philadelphia hadn’t shown how it would pay for raises and benefits that firefighters won in a recent arbitration award.
But the Nutter administration, which is appealing that award, now says it would make several drastic cuts to pay for the award. Katz says PICA needs more time to review those details, before voting to approve or reject Philadelphia's five-year budget plan.
"I know they realized that the plan that they had submitted on July 27 was not going to be approved, as was," said Katz. "This is, I think, an outcome that works better for everybody."
If the city loses the appeal, the Nutter administration says hundreds of jobs could be eliminated. Other possible cuts could lead to reduced hours at libraries and pools, and deactivated fire companies.
PICA board member Sam Hopkins calls the list of potential cuts a "political scare technique" and questions if the city would actually implement them. City Finance Director Rob Dubow says the cuts are real, but avoidable. He expects a successful appeal.
"Make one thing clear, we don't want to implement anything. This is what we think we would have to do if the award were upheld," said Dubow.
Firefighter union chief Bill Gault said the city should honor the award.
If PICA doesn't give the plan its blessing, the city could lose state funds.