Northeast Times

Many concerns voiced at NE budget hearing

Words of frus­tra­tion: City Coun­cil holds a neigh­bor­hood budget hear­ing at Lin­coln High School on April 29. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHO­TOS

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 jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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