City Council backs Jamie Gauthier’s $72 million quality-of-life bill in signed letter to Council President Darrell L. Clarke
The West Philly councilmember authored the proposed budget increase bill that addresses quality of life issues such as illegal dumping and traffic safety.
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In what is both Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell L. Clarke’s final city budget negotiations before stepping down from their respective positions, nearly all of City Council hopes to include a $72 million amendment pushed by Councilmember Jamie Gauthier that addresses quality-of-life issues into the new budget with an agreement needed to be made by the end of the month.
The #JustServicesPHL 2024 Fiscal Year budget amendment — as it’s known — is supported by 14 councilmembers as Gauthier led them to sign a letter to Council President Clarke to express their support of the amendment.
Kenney — who’a term limited — is set to step down as Mayor in the new year and to be replaced by either Democratic Primary winner Cherelle Parker or Republican David Oh. Clarke will be retiring at the end of his term after 12-years as Council President.
Authored by Gauthier, who represents West Philadelphia’s 3rd District, the proposal includes funding for several initiatives including cleaning abandoned lots, and addressing illegal dumping, with $37 million alone to improve traffic safety, particularly in school-zone areas and near daycare centers.
The proposal also looks for the city to commit $9 million that would allow for the hiring of six additional crews for the city’s illegal dumping problem.
Other measures of the bill include $10 million for cleaning and securing privately- and publicly-owned vacant lots, over $10 million to improve code enforcement by way of increased salaries and hiring additional building inspectors, adding 100 additional vehicles to the city’s fleet, and almost $1 million to expand the Law Department’s code enforcement initiative to hold illegal dumpers legally accountable.
This in comparison to Mayor Kenney’s proposal that included few additional investments in quality-of-life issues. He called for $2.5 million to expand street sweeping and $4 million to create an additional crew to clean up illegal dumping sites across the city.
Kenney had previously introduced his modest budget proposal this past March that in part included free SEPTA passes for over 25,000 residents living in poverty and city employees, small cuts to overall spending, a property tax freeze, a $55 million boost to the police budget, and $25 million for increasing anti-violence programs outside of traditional law enforcement.
It was criticized for being a budget that shied away from bold policy proposals amid his administration’s struggle throughout his second-term to deal with lockdown and the increasing gun violence crisis.
Gauthier responded to Kenney’s proposal in April, who in her second year alongside City Councilmember Kendra Brooks and former-Democratic candidate for Mayor Helen Gym, launched #JustServicesPHL, a campaign towards addressing quality-of-life issues which resulted in millions of new funding to remove abandoned cars, crack down on illegal dumping, and other initiatives.
The progressive Gauthier, who will begin her second term in January, said the additional investments are not additions to an already functioning sector of local government but core services the city has failed to provide, particularly during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These are core, basic services that the city should be able to provide well to keep neighborhoods feeling and looking good, and to let residents know that we care,” she said in an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.