Rethinking Library Cuts?

Fishtown_Dave's picture

Looks like it's true. All

nick-bug's picture

Libraries stay open... but

Libraries stay open... but now they're talking about cutting trash collection back to once every other week...

&/or closing city health centers...

&/or reducing restaurant inspections...

&/or raising taxes or charging trash collection fees (aren't trash collection fees a tax?).

Curiously, the only thing they don't seem to be interested in doing is selling the city luxury box seats at the ballpark. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20090129_Daniel_Rubin__Mayor_Nutter_should_cut_luxury_boxes.html

lauraska's picture

But if we want all these

But if we want all these services...libraries, trash collection every week, health centers, frequent restaurant inspections...they cost MONEY!! I have the feeling that, even if we eliminated the waste that goes on in city hall, we still aren't going to recoup enough to cover the city's deficit. The city needs to find ways to increase REVENUE, so that means things like raising taxes, casinos, collecting the millions in back taxes (but that costs money, too, because they have to hire collections agencies to do it in a reasonably timely manner), and other, more creative, ideas...like renting out empty city properties for profit, instead of $1 a year. (I'm not talking about buildings like the library building...there are other buildings that are empty, or partially empty, and they don't all need to be rented out by non-profit groups.)

nick-bug's picture

lauraska wrote:The city

lauraska wrote:

The city needs to find ways to increase REVENUE, so that means things like raising taxes, casinos, collecting the millions in back taxes (but that costs money, too, because they have to hire collections agencies to do it in a reasonably timely manner), and other, more creative, ideas...like renting out empty city properties for profit, instead of $1 a year.

I like what you are saying about city waste. There's a good bit of waste, but trying to eliminate it is a rat hole. It never ends... and I haven't found a business or anything else yet that doesn't have some type of waste to complain about...

The city does need some new ideas... but it also has to confront old problems. The biggest problem is the cost of health and pension benefits. Those costs are choking the city budget. Until those costs are addressed, we're just going to see continuing cycles of reductions in services.

jmminarik's picture

nick-bug wrote: The city

nick-bug wrote:

The city does need some new ideas... but it also has to confront old problems. The biggest problem is the cost of health and pension benefits. Those costs are choking the city budget. Until those costs are addressed, we're just going to see continuing cycles of reductions in services.

We also need to get the 3rd branch of government to start helping too. Judges and the court system as a whole need to get on board with taking paycuts, job cuts, furloughs, etc. They're mostly immune to any budget cuts due to the required separation of powers, but they can -voluntarily- spend less. For example, 2 strikes and you're out continuance policies for no-show defendants, reduced calls for jury duty (now they've improved the response to jury summonses), and so on.

roma258's picture

This is great news, everyone

This is great news, everyone who fought the closing needs to be commended. As far as the city raising revenue, how about PhilAid? http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Could_a_PhilAid_Concert_Come_Our_Way.html

Ok, that's probably not going to put a dent in the budget, but I would actually really like to see this happen. Kind of a "we're all in this together" sort of a moment.

roma258's picture

This is great news, everyone

This is great news, everyone who fought the closing needs to be commended. As far as the city raising revenue, how about PhilAid? http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Could_a_PhilAid_Concert_Come_Our_Way.html

Ok, that's probably not going to put a dent in the budget, but I would actually really like to see this happen. Kind of a "we're all in this together" sort of a moment.

Ftown66's picture

nick-bug wrote:lauraska

nick-bug wrote:
lauraska wrote:

The city needs to find ways to increase REVENUE, so that means things like raising taxes, casinos, collecting the millions in back taxes (but that costs money, too, because they have to hire collections agencies to do it in a reasonably timely manner), and other, more creative, ideas...like renting out empty city properties for profit, instead of $1 a year.

I like what you are saying about city waste. There's a good bit of waste, but trying to eliminate it is a rat hole. It never ends... and I haven't found a business or anything else yet that doesn't have some type of waste to complain about...

The city does need some new ideas... but it also has to confront old problems. The biggest problem is the cost of health and pension benefits. Those costs are choking the city budget. Until those costs are addressed, we're just going to see continuing cycles of reductions in services.

It's easy to sit there and say we need to cut the health and welfare and pension benifits of goverment workers but if it was you getting those benifits would you bewilling to cut yours? Probably not. So why is exceptable for people to think they should cut theirs. I have no problem with a city worker who gets pension and medical as long as they are actually working for it. The real waste is the goverment worker who are stealing time. The Latrice Bryants of of philadelphia.

lauraska's picture

I actually agree with

I actually agree with Ftown66!!! The sky must be falling. But seriously, we really only hear about the government workers who take advantage of the system. Alot of government employees work very hard for salaries that are much lower than folks with similar jobs in the private sector...one of the reasons why people take these jobs are because of the excellent benefits. When I worked for the City of New York, I was fresh out of law school with six figures in law school debt, making less than 50K...in NEW YORK...it ain't cheap there. But I had a pension, and FREE awesome health care, so in my opinion, it all kind of evened out. A law clerk for a city judge makes $38,000 a year...and again, that requires a law degree that most people spend six figures to get. But people take the job because a) it offers great networking opportunities, and b) you pay something like $8 a month for awesome health care.

jmminarik's picture

lauraska wrote: But

lauraska wrote:

But seriously, we really only hear about the government workers who take advantage of the system.

Or who screw up big time, etc. Despite my grousing, trash mostly gets picked up, traffic lights work, its not a free-for-all on (all) streets, fires get put out, kids cross safely to school, taxes are mostly collected, most DHS kids reach adulthood, etc. Occasionally government even does something spectacular, like put men on the moon or pull a plane load of people off the Hudson river in minutes.

The only real question I have is how long until the pension goes away and is replaced by a 401 type plan. With most people now responsible for their own retirement funding, its seems an antiquated bloated system if you're not a beneficiary of it.

nick-bug's picture

Ftown66 wrote:It's easy to

Ftown66 wrote:

It's easy to sit there and say we need to cut the health and welfare and pension benifits of goverment workers...

Fair point, and I also recognize that (as Lauraska mentioned) employment benefits often compensate for lousy salaries.

The problem is that the cost of the benefits is growing far faster than revenues. The cost is taking a significant portion of the city budget, and growing.

That's certainly not good for city workers (at least those that are still working). They're already closed fire stations, threatened libraries, and now they're talking about major layoffs in the Streets/Santitation department. (Maybe its better to have a job with some benefits, or different benefits, rather than no job).

I agree that it's not right to cut benefits for those already in the system. With that said, it's time to take a hard look at how these benefits are structured and make changes. It may make sense to pay more in salary and provide less in benefits. The hidden costs of the benefits (which often don't manifest for years) may be more than we can continue to afford.

The only other solution, I'm afraid, is for the city government to divest itself of all "non-essential" services. Things like libraries, health centers, parks/recreation, parades, etc.

Unless, your advocating for a tax increase?