Thursday, May 21, 2009

A tale of two plans ...

There is another twist in Bill Peduto’s release, today, of his outline for a new five year Act-47 plan. That twist is that Dean Kaplan and the State appointed Act 47 team sent City Council their five year plan. It is markedly less ambitious than Peduto’s plan. But because this plan from the Act 47 people can only be modified by Council with the Act 47 people's permission, it is safe (unfortunately) to say that Mr. Peduto's plan is now DOA.

By the way, the Act 47 people did the Mayor an incredible favor by waiting until two days after the primary to release their plan. The Mayor would have looked much less like the architect of our recovery and much more like the puppet he is.

The Act 47 plan would freeze the 37.5 parking tax where it is, rather than let it drop. The Act 47 people noted that rates did not come down when the tax went down, so apparently the City might just as well not reduce the tax further, but instead should use the money for infrastructure (woo hoo, 2.5 percent of parking tax revenue, we’re rich, I tell’s you).

The City is supposed to increase its contribution to the pension plan by 10 million a year. If the City can’t find that money anywhere (property tax windfall, anyone?) it would be allowed to go (hat in hand) to Harrisburg for an increase in the EMS tax, from $52 to $145 or for permission to expand the payroll tax (payroll preparation tax?) to universities and hospitals and other tax exempt groups.

There direct input on pay raises for union employees, changes in benefits, closing a fire station, eliminating some deputy fire chiefs, changes in bargaining and trail board rules, in short, a slightly less severe set of limits put on government than was done in 2004. Rich Lord didn’t say whether the plan included limiting take home cars.

I look when I get a chance for a copy of the report. But from Mr. Lord’s initial description, the plan looks like another just barely adequate effort to see us through the next five years. At some point there may be balloon payments we might not be able to meet. Then it will hit the fan.

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