City Council members were asked for more money for libraries, more dollars for union workers, more cash for health care and more cops to patrol the Northeast during a well-attended neighborhood budget hearing Monday night at Lincoln High School.
The more than 20 speakers did not have much to say about bringing in money when they addressed Council President Darrell Clarke (D-5th dist.) and council members Bobby Henon (D-6th dist.), Cindy Bass (D-8th dist.), Mark Squilla (D-1st dist.), Dennis O’Brien (R-at large) and David Oh (R-at large).
City Council is in the process of considering how the city will spend money in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.
Spending on the arts does bring dollars to the local economy, said Meg Sharp Walton, Glen Foerd on the Delaware’s executive director. Arts and culture generate $32.6 million a year in the Far Northeast, she said.
Sue Rosenthal, chairwoman of Health Center 10’s community board, told council members the need for city-subsidized healthcare services has increased. The Cottman Avenue city health center has 1,000 new patients this year, she said.
Karen Lash, president of the Friends of Holmesburg Library, wants more spending on library branches, which she said, are experiencing an upward demand for services. She said more libraries should return to six-day-a-week hours.
Rich Frizell, president of Holmesburg Civic Association, said he wants to see city money spent in his neighborhood. He said he owns four properties and his taxes are going up. That tax money is not going to Holmesburg, he said.
Therese Garvin, wife of a firefighter, said the city’s policy of temporarily closing – or browning out – some fire stations is dangerous to firefighters and to the public. It should stop, she said.
“Our taxes didn’t decrease; why should our protection?” she asked to applause from the more than 200 in the high school’s auditorium.
“I agree with you,” Henon said. “I think [the Nutter] administration shows a lack of respect for our first responders.”
Bass, O’Brien, Squilla and Oh chipped in with their support for firefighters.
Oh said he has proposed an ordinance to set aside $66 million to pay increases to firefighters, who have been working without a contract for about four years.
Other labor issues got a lot of attention, too.
State Rep. Mark Cohen (D-202nd dist.) said more money must be put aside for labor contracts.
Union leaders Cathy Scott, president of AFSCME Local 47, said 42 percent of her members, city white-collar workers, are living in poverty and need more money.
John McNesby, president of Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police, asked for more cops.
“We are over 500 down in the city,” he said.
On this past Sunday, he said, the 15th district, the city’s busiest, was patrolled by just six cars and one van.
Academy classes are small because too many police academy candidates wash out during interviews, McNesby said.
“We need help out there,” he said.••
Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org