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What's a city without a public library?
September 11, 2009 10:37 PM   Subscribe

As part of what Mayor Michael Nutter has dubbed the "Plan C" budget, the Free Library of Philadelphia (the Pennsylvania city's public library system), chartered in 1891, will close all its branches and cease all services October 2, 2009, unless measures to raise sales tax and delay some pension payments are approved by the State Legislature in Harrisburg. The closing could be a huge blow for a city whose most famous citizen, Benjamin Franklin, founded The Library Company of Philadelphia, the United States' first successful lending library, there in 1731.

A list, from the city government's website, of all the cuts necessitated by the "Doomsday" budget:
Streets

Budget Reduction: $14.4 million
Positions Eliminated: 300
Impact:

* Trash pickup reduced to twice monthly
* Stop mechanical cleaning and special event cleaning
* City-owned litter baskets removed
* Switch 1,000 traffic signals to flash
* Remove bulbs from 4,000 street lights for arterial roadways
* Stop alley light repairs
* Reduce maintenance of street lights


By Early September:

* Identify light bulbs to be removed and inform neighborhoods impacted
* Notify citizens of reduced trash collection schedule
* Identify traffic signals to be switched to flash


Libraries

Budget Reduction: $29.6 million
Positions Eliminated: 490
Impact:

* All 53 branch and Central Libraries cease operations including the following:
* LEAP after school program for 80,000 children and teens
* 150 Books Aloud! programs
* Partnerships with schools including librarian visits, Reading Olympics, Philadelphia scholarship program
* 15 Teen Author Series programs
* 27 Adult education programs presented by literacy organizations
* Summer Reading for 55,000 children, teens and adults
* Free computer classes
* 40 teen programs
* 10 Small business programs
* Sundays on Stage
* 135 Author Events
* One Book, One Philadelphia
* Free Library Festival

Grant Programs including:

* IMLS Growing Our Own Student Librarians
* GlaxoSmithKline Science in the summer – 47 sessions, 1,400 youth participating
* Claneil Books Aloud with PHA Sites
* PNC Books Aloud with Head Starts and libraries
* Merck science programs with LEAP
* LSTA College and Career Prep with LEAP and at 5 branches across city
* IMLS Media Mash Up national project

By Early September:

* Stop 3 week book renewals
* Cancel special collection loans and retrieve outside loans
* Cancel Fall Author Series and all special programming for Fall
* Begin to notify program providers, volunteers (including court-ordered volunteers) outside organizations using meeting spaces, special event and series’ sponsors, interns, work-study participants, parents, schools and others that all library functions cease October 2



Recreation

Budget Reduction: $30.8 million
Positions Eliminated: 520
Impact:

* All 160 Recreation facilities and programs cease operation including:
* 96 After School programs serving 3000 children
* 13 Teen Centers serving 1100 teens
* 34 Tot –Recreation programs serving 1200 young children
* 6 Older Centers serving 180,000 meals for seniors and programs/activities
* Maintenance to 73 Parks
* Sports for 500 community groups using facilities
* 30 Sports programs serving 45,000 people
* 66 programs with public schools
* 110 programs with Catholic Youth Organization
* 262 baseball fields, 224 basket ball courts, 161 tennis courts, 142 sports fields, 120 school gyms, 56 other gyms


By Early September:

* Prepare notification for parents with children in pre-school program suggesting they consider finding alternative day care services for their children
* Prepare notification for parents with children in after school programs suggesting they consider finding alternative after school care


Fairmount Park

Budget Reduction: $11 million
Positions Eliminated: 140
Impact:

* Operations cease throughout the system of 63 neighborhood parks, 115 athletic fields, 469 buildings and 13 fountains
* No grass-cutting
* No maintenance of restroom facilities
* No maintenance of ball fields or trails
* No trash removal
* Limited tree removal
* Horticulture Center and Lloyd Hall close to public
* Permit holders for events may use permitted area but no services (electricity, cleanup, plumbing, security) provided


By Early September

* Notify organizations with permits for special events from October until the end of the year (such as Dragon Boat Festival, Columbus Day Parade, AIDS Walk) that necessary services may not be available
* Notify all organizations with meetings, events in Horticulture Center and Lloyd Hall of possible cancellations
* Notify 136 athletic and youth organizations with field permits of potential disruption including Wissahickon AA and St. Joseph’s Prep


Police

Budget Reduction: $43.9 million
Positions Eliminated: 972
Impact:

* Lack of police presence will be felt all across the City. Support for various Specialized Districts and further erosion of the remaining specialized Response Units (Strike Force, Traffic Unit, and the Neighborhood Services Unit) will severely hamper crime fighting.
* Cuts to Anti-violence and anti-drug units, schools resource officers and community relations officers – combined to the massive cuts to services across the city – will only further damage the ability to provide public safety.


Fire

Budget Reduction: $16.7 million
Positions Eliminated: 36 officer, 120 firefighter and 40 paramedic positions
Impact:

* Deactivation of up to Six Engine Companies, Three Ladder Companies, Five Advanced Life Support Medic Units, affecting neighborhoods across the City.
* This is just the tip of the devastation the failure of HB 1828 would have in Public Safety.

Health

Budget Reduction: $4.7 million
Positions Eliminated: 112
Impact:

* Two of the City’s Eight Health Centers will cease operations at a time when visits to the centers has increased by 5% in the last year
* Wait times will increase by 25% at all 6 remaining health centers
* Delay treatments for neonatal care, family planning, dental care, immunizations, diabetes, and vaccinations for H1N1


City Planning, Commerce and Historical Commission


Budget Reduction: $5.7 million
Positions Eliminated: 59
Impact:

* The City will no longer be able to issue permits needed for the majority of construction or renovation projects in Philadelphia.
* The City will eliminate all tax credits for job creation and business expansion.
posted by ocherdraco (99 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
But imagine how low taxes will be!
posted by mightygodking at 10:42 PM on September 11, 2009 [15 favorites]


So that's kind of bleak. Nutter wants to thump Philly into a borderline third world city instead of raising taxes a degree or two.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:54 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Without knowing the specifics of the city budget, I can't be sure that this is true, but this sounds like the classic defense strategy for bureaucrats who are told to come up with cuts for their department. What the savvy, seasoned ones do is cut the things that hurt other departments first, and cut the internal pet projects last, to try to convince management that cutting their department is just too painful to contemplate. They're counting on the fact that their bosses probably won't take the time to really look at the numbers.

It would not shock me in the slightest to see lots of stupid stuff in this budget, flagrant waste, while the cuts are all loaded into services that city residents really need and use, in order to maximize voter pain, and help ensure that taxes are raised.

They also might be playing it perfectly straight. But if I were a city resident, I'd be giving that budget a very thorough inspection right about now. The pain approach demands ignorant bosses, so if you're a voter in this district -- one of the bosses -- making sure this budget is on the level would be quite appropriate.
posted by Malor at 10:57 PM on September 11, 2009 [26 favorites]


So that's kind of bleak. Nutter wants to thump Philly into a borderline third world city instead of raising taxes a degree or two.

Talk about an appropriately named mayor, though ...
posted by barnacles at 10:57 PM on September 11, 2009


Too bad that the people who want low taxes aren't the only people who end up not having any public services.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:08 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


Closing that library is really fucking sad...
posted by gnutron at 11:12 PM on September 11, 2009


So that's kind of bleak. Nutter wants to thump Philly into a borderline third world city instead of raising taxes a degree or two. (barnacles)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that Nutter actually wants to raise taxes, but must have approval from the State Legislature to do so.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:16 PM on September 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


What are you people talking about? The mayor doesn't set tax rates. Read the linked article.
Plan C is the budget the city will have to enact if state lawmakers don't grant Philadelphia permission to temporarily hike the sales tax and delay some pension payments -- moves worth $700 million over five years. The city would deal with losing the revenue by slashing 3,000 jobs, closing libraries and recreation centers and eliminating funding for the local courts. Without state action, those cuts would take effect Oct. 2.
I don't think anyone actually wants to make these cuts.
posted by delmoi at 11:17 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Isn't this post slightly misleading? The city has delayed implementing the "doomsday" or "Plan C" budget.

So that's kind of bleak. Nutter wants to thump Philly into a borderline third world city instead of raising taxes a degree or two.

If I remember correctly, the doomsday budget actually does raise taxes, while still cutting services. Other proposed budgets involve increased state funding, to keep from cutting too much.

Personally, wage taxes were the worst part of Philadelphia. The city kept giving tax breaks and moratoriums to campaign contributors corporate and real estate interests, hoping to get workers to stay long enough to foot the bill. It costs money to pick up the trash and put police on the streets. Something was bound to give at some point.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:21 PM on September 11, 2009


It's always services for the poor, elderly, and underemployed that get cut first. Some of this stuff will be felt citywide, but the majority of these cuts hit squarely upon those least able to bear it.

This sounds quite safe, especially in light of the police cuts and all the youth and elderly left on the streets because services are gone:
* Stop alley light repairs
* Reduce maintenance of street lights


Are they actually proposing to gamble with public safety to get tax increases passed? That's blatant fearmongering. If women get raped in dark alleys I'm sure the politicians will be quick to point the finger and say "We told you so!" with their palms held out.

In this day of swine flu and other illnesses, they're proposing halting trash pickup to twice a month?

Though on my recent (and first) visit to Philadelphia last month, I discovered that there are combination solar-powered trash compactors/recycling bins everywhere and wondered just why we didn't have anything quite that innovative and dare I say, cool, here in NYC yet.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:24 PM on September 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding was that Nutter actually wants to raise taxes, but must have approval from the State Legislature to do so.

While I don't know enough (make that anything) about Philly politics to know for sure, I would bet that this budget is partially intended to convince the Legislature to raise taxes and to try and get people to understand that their taxes pay for things they take for granted.

I would guess that even if the taxes aren't raised they can find more clever ways to cut the city budget.
posted by vorpal bunny at 11:29 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Piping in as the resident Georgist, the funny thing is nearly all those services raise property values. Cities should IMO have the power to tax land values within its jurisdiction aggressively (within reason, of course). Funny thing is IIRC the LVT got its start in Philadelphia.

Tax income and people hide their incomes. Tax sales and people buy from amazon. Tax buildings and people build less. Tax land owners and land owners . . . pay the tax, by definition.
posted by Palamedes at 11:35 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would bet that this budget is partially intended to convince the Legislature to raise taxes

Same thing here in Cal. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll close the goddamn state parks! How do you like me now?
posted by Palamedes at 11:37 PM on September 11, 2009


This might be a heavy handed tactic that could sway centrists who fear the backlash of tax hikes, but it won't sway any of the heavy anti-tax Republicans. In fact, I think this move them to tears of joy, cutting government services so deeply.

Well, that is, until it's their neighborhood that loses street lights, has flashing traffic signals, and they realize that twice monthly trash pickup can be just a bit troublesome. If we're removing almost all police presence and street lighting from the upper class neighborhoods, maybe it will scare a few more people into a tax hike.

This list of cuts though? Had to be designed by a Libertarian-wing Republican, or a real Nutter.
posted by Saydur at 11:41 PM on September 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


According to the Philadelphia city government website, their general fund is just under $4 billion. The total budget is over $7B. The next largest city in the US is San Antonio. Philadelphia has a population of 1.4M people. San Antonio, 1.3M. San Antonio has a general fund of $885M and a total consolidated budget of $2.3B. As far as I can tell, San Antonio is also dealing with budget shortfalls, but they still manage to to just fine with less than a third the money than Philly needs. What the hell.
posted by signalnine at 11:44 PM on September 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


ah, correction, Philadelphia is just the birthplace of Henry George; one of the first implementations was actually Pittsburgh.

I was trawling
posted by Palamedes at 11:53 PM on September 11, 2009


Who the fuck elects someone named Nutter?
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 AM on September 12, 2009


Raising taxes is one thing, but delaying pension payments? That's going to mess up people's lives. There should be no ducking out of pensions or associated payments, period - people worked on the assurance they would get this money later, and they're owed it in a very real way.

Of course, I think the solution is just raising taxes more, not cutting services, if there really isn't enough money to pay for things. However, like others have said, I suspect things are either being done very inefficiently or pet pork projects are consuming all the resources. Someone probably needs to take a closer look at this budget and see where all of the money is going.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:01 AM on September 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


"Same thing here in Cal. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll close the goddamn state parks! How do you like me now?"

Except here our jackass governor and one-third and change moronic legislature actually sees that as an ideal outcome.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


they still manage to to just fine with less than a third the money than Philly needs. What the hell.

cost of living varies between localities. Being in the middle of BFE, San Antonio is free to expand in all directions so I expect land values are a lot less there. Philadelphia, having been settled in the 17th century and being on a river and stuff, not so much. Plus the median income in SA is $50K for a working couple, compared to $62K the couple in Philly.

Philly no doubt has more investment in public services than SA, and different demographics, crime challenges, etc. Ah, the biggest diff is that the Philadelphia MSA over 5M, while SA is is under 2M.
posted by Palamedes at 12:07 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, can San Antonio really be considered a city?

Philadelphia's budget woes are very serious, and if these changes happen it's doubtful I'll be living here much longer. It's a wonderful, beautiful city but unfortunately national priorities to keep cities wonderful and beautiful are just not there. The only thing most people understand (especially the PA state legislature) is that it's tough to park in cities, so why bother?
posted by deafmute at 12:16 AM on September 12, 2009


I was trawling...

if anyone wishes me to finish that thought:

... wikipedia and was surprised to learn that William Penn briefly ended up in debtor's prison in the UK, while he still putatively owned (what is now) the entire state of Pennsylvania. Penn: “O Pennsylvania! what hast thou cost me? Above thirty thousand pounds more than I ever got by it, two hazardous and most fatiguing voyages, my straits and slavery here, and my child’s soul almost…” [1]
posted by Palamedes at 12:18 AM on September 12, 2009


Reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons where Skinner and Edna debate raising taxes to fund education: About 2:40 into this video.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:21 AM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bullshit power politics.
posted by caddis at 12:29 AM on September 12, 2009


You know what that smells like? Smells like dystopia.

Ahhhhh
posted by Avenger at 12:41 AM on September 12, 2009


I would guess that even if the taxes aren't raised they can find more clever ways to cut the city budget.

Why don't you tell us how you would cut the budget?

Same thing here in Cal. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll close the goddamn state parks! How do you like me now?

Again, do you think the parks are free? All this stuff costs money, do you think there is something else they could cut?
posted by delmoi at 12:42 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Arm twisting on Nutter's part. He wants a 'temporary' increase in the sales tax to fund the budget, but the legislature - the one that hates Pittsburgh and Philly - won't go for it.
posted by fixedgear at 1:44 AM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sure, Nutter is a funny name, politicians are bad, and libraries shouldn't be closed down. Personally, I don't think people who aren't in Philadelphia or the surrounding region should comment on this issue and Nutter's handling of it. What I mean is, it's a difficult issue that didn't crop up overnight, and I don't think outsiders who haven't been aware of the problem (which is a state issue moreso than a mere city issue, imo) should really comment. I live in the Philadelphia area, and it's the only region I know. It's just that I wouldn't make very broad statements about financial or social issues plaguing other cities.

For what it's worth, I also wouldn't enter into a serious conversation on the crisis in Philadelphia without mentioning Ed Rendell. No one's mentioned him or his role in all of this.

I know I'm going to get flamed. (This comment was not directed at the OP or the commenters who know what's going on, I should say.)
posted by Mael Oui at 2:18 AM on September 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


My first job was at the Southwark branch of the Philly library system. I'd hate to see their funding dip even a penny below the current sorry pittance.
posted by bokane at 2:37 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Talk about an appropriately named mayor, though ...

Mayor Street never would have cut funding for Street lights.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:43 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rather than telling the rest of us to shut up, how about you explain what's going on?
posted by ryanrs at 5:14 AM on September 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Tax land owners and land owners . . . pay the tax, by definition.

Or move away.

I bet no one clamoring for higher taxes has had his property tax bill go up between $250 and $1000 *every* year like it has in my area.
posted by digsrus at 5:20 AM on September 12, 2009


So I guess the terrorists really have won. (Not being facetious.)
posted by nax at 5:26 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess this isn't fashionable anymore, but what exactly is the point of being part of a society with representational government if citizens don't get any /benefits/ from it?

It seems we are all getting more and more patriotic and nationalistic about less and less.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:49 AM on September 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


The thing with Pennsylvania is that the state legislature is controlled by rural and suburban Republicans who hate Philly (and Pittsburgh) and have done their best to keep those evil cities from getting any funding. Nutter is essentially holding a gun to the city's head and has sent a ransom note to the state government; he's the last person who wants any of these cuts made but he's trying to call the legislature's bluff. Give us the the funding or I'll shoot this city.
posted by octothorpe at 5:57 AM on September 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


Oh and they're not talking about not paying pensions, they're talking about not paying as much into the pension fund. The cities are bound by law to keep the pension funds up to a certain level and both Philly and Pittsburgh have fallen behind in that process. At least in the short term, individual city pensioners will still get their checks.
posted by octothorpe at 6:01 AM on September 12, 2009


To be fair, can San Antonio really be considered a city?

San Antonio — Population: 935,933
Philadelphia — Population: 1,517,550

(first obvious google hits)

The suburbs and exurbs around SA are pretty huge, and growing fast. Urban area is probably ~1.5 million. So to be fair, yes.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:02 AM on September 12, 2009


I would bet that this budget is partially intended to convince the Legislature to raise taxes

Same thing here in Cal. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll close the goddamn state parks! How do you like me now?


Same thing here in NC. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll cut funding for schools for the deaf and blind!

Interesting little tidbit came out of the state wide budget cuts, though. Turns out we, the tax payers, have been subsidizing the fancy lunches at the Legislative Building cafeteria. Who eats lunch in the Legislative Building? Lobbyists, journalists, and legislators. So, for example, the Lobbyists for Progressive Energy, can tuck into a sustaining meal of pork chops and apples in Normandy sauce so that they don't faint from hunger while they lobby for price increases.
*One frequent diner, however, a lobbyist who clearly does not represent the food services industry, joked that he would have to consider skipping desserts from now on, or at least "reducing the tip."
I imagine that all state budgets are larded with similar examples of "Personal Pork".
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:22 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If this plan passes, can we change the city's name to Phobadelphia instead?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:24 AM on September 12, 2009


"Last week, I went to Philadelphia. It was closed."

--W. C. Fields.
posted by jimfl at 6:26 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Library stories always get the most fervent attention around here.
posted by adoarns at 6:31 AM on September 12, 2009


Same thing here in Cal. You won't raise taxes? OK, I'll close the goddamn state parks! How do you like me now?

Exactly. SEPTA, Philadelphia's regional public transit agency, does this same damn thing every few years. "You won't send us state money? Fine, we'll cut our service to ONE BUS FOR THE WHOLE CITY."

Arm twisting on Nutter's part. He wants a 'temporary' increase in the sales tax to fund the budget, but the legislature - the one that hates Pittsburgh and Philly - won't go for it.

Isn't that the truth. I grew up in the Harrisburg suburbs (ha...) and the antipathy toward the urban areas of the state is astounding.
posted by The Michael The at 6:35 AM on September 12, 2009


"I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:40 AM on September 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


San Antonio — Population: 935,933
Philadelphia — Population: 1,517,550


From 2008 calculations of the US Census Bureau's Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas:

Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington: 5,838,471
San Antonio: 2,031,445

Even if you extract Philadelphia from the metro area (which rightfully should include the other two), it's 3,892,194, or almost two times San Antonio.

For just within city limits, it's:

Philadelphia: 1,457,150
San Antonio: 1,260,333

However, density is one of the true measures of a city. Philadelphia has 135.1 square miles of land; San Antonio has 407.56 (data from Wikipedia). Population densities:

Philadelphia: 10785.71429 persons per square mile
San Antonio: 3092.386397 persons per square mile

Philadelphia is 3.5 times San Antonio in density, and beyond the city limits, Philadelphia has 3.15 times the number of people in its metropolitan area (even excluding Camden and Wilmington). So yeah, San Antonio is hardly a city =)
posted by The Michael The at 6:49 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wake me if these cuts ever actually happen. Chicago does stuff like this pretty much every year with the public transit system. Lawmakers start shouting about a 'doomsday' in which most of the bus lines will be shut down, commuter train service will be vastly scaled back, fares will double or triple, and hundreds of workers will be laid off. There's always a doomsday date on which this will occur if Springfield doesn't come up with the money. It always comes down to hours before the deadline, and Springfield always comes up with the money. This is just a scare tactic, I highly doubt that the Mayor would actually implement these cuts.
posted by notswedish at 6:59 AM on September 12, 2009


Who the fuck elects someone named Nutter?

Or Hussein, right? LOL
posted by EarBucket at 7:00 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, San Antonio is also dealing with budget shortfalls, but they still manage to to just fine with less than a third the money than Philly needs. What the hell.

The cities of Philadelphia and San Antonio aren't equivalent just because they're both cities. Most obviously, the City of Philadelphia absorbed Philadelphia County a long time ago, while the City of San Antonio and Bexar County remain wholly separate legal and political entities. As well, local governance in Texas includes a vast range of special districts with their own taxing and spending authority that have no legal connection to the cities or counties whose residents they serve, while big northeastern cities tend to have pretty all-encompassing responsibilities. About the only thing the City of Philadelphia doesn't seem to have legal responsibility for within its borders is K12 education.

And there's also the matter that Texas local governments simply provide far fewer services to their citizens.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:21 AM on September 12, 2009


The Straightener, please pick up the blue courtesy phone. Straightener, blue courtesy phone.
posted by cashman at 7:47 AM on September 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Again, do you think the parks are free? All this stuff costs money, do you think there is something else they could cut?

We could maybe stop paying so much money to keep nonviolent parole and three-strikes violators imprisoned in a system that is so overcrowded that we're under court court order to reduce the population.
California’s 13-year-old three-strikes law, which doubles sentences for second-time felons, and reserves life sentences for even nonviolent third-felony offenders like Mr. Foroutan, has also increased the prison population by thousands. As of March 2008, there were 41,284 prisoners serving time under the three-strikes law. In 2005, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the law cost the state $500 million annually.

California is the only state in the nation that paroles 98 percent of released inmates, even if they have completed their sentences. About 70,000 parolees return to prison every year. Nationally, states parole an average of 40 percent of their released inmates.
But between legislators afraid of seeming "soft on crime" and the prison guards' union, true reform is a long way off.

Back to the discussion of Philadelphia. Sorry, Philly.
posted by rtha at 8:03 AM on September 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Just to reiterate: Nutter is probably the last person in Philadelphia who wants to make these cuts. It definitely would suck if these cuts happen, but you know what? Even if some department is having free finger sandwiches in the break room, is that honestly enough to cover the whole rest of the budget shortfall?

As impossible as this is to believe, I'm pretty sure most of the budget is actually going towards the necessary functions of government. There is still probably a small amount of waste here and there, but it probably hasn't taken up a sizable fraction of any municipal government's budget in years.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:14 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Though on my recent (and first) visit to Philadelphia last month, I discovered that there are combination solar-powered trash compactors/recycling bins everywhere and wondered just why we didn't have anything quite that innovative and dare I say, cool, here in NYC yet.

I don't really get the appeal of those; I mean, you have to grab a handle in order to pull down the opening of the garbage cans, and while I'm not in any way germophobic, is the public at large really all that psyched to have to physically interact with a garbage can, rather than simply tossing rubbish into a hole-shaped receptacle?

I know they save money by reducing the number of pickups you need, and save fossil fuels by reducing the number of times garbage trucks have to drive to them and make pickups, but does the average person-on-the-street actually use them?
posted by Greg Nog at 8:20 AM on September 12, 2009


None of this surprises me. The city's infrastructure is also crumbling and most of the people I knew when I was there have either left or are planning their escape.
posted by Zambrano at 8:27 AM on September 12, 2009


Tax land owners and land owners . . . pay the tax, by definition.

So what happens when some rich people come in and start gentrifying your neighborhood, thus increasing property values to the point that you can no longer afford the taxes on your land?
posted by lexicakes at 8:37 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've was just saying to someone last night that they might as well truck in zombies to release when this goes into effect. Fuck it, FULL ON APOCALYPSE SCENARIO LET'S DO THIS SHIT.

Who the fuck elects someone named Nutter?

Who the fuck elects Arnold Schwarzeneggar?

None of this surprises me. The city's infrastructure is also crumbling and most of the people I knew when I was there have either left or are planning their escape.

Zambrano, nobody you knew in Philly ever planned on staying here in the first place and you know that so stop pretending like you or anyone you knew were driven away.
posted by The Straightener at 9:03 AM on September 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


I like Nutter because he sounds like Sammy Davis Jr and I am not going anywhere, dammit!
posted by orme at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know they save money by reducing the number of pickups you need, and save fossil fuels by reducing the number of times garbage trucks have to drive to them and make pickups, but does the average person-on-the-street actually use them?

Uh... yes? I use them. I see people using them constantly. The city removed 500 trash cans to make room for 500 compactors, most of which also have a recycling box next to them, and I haven't seen any kind of ultra-littering traspocalypse going on. And as a mostly-pedestrian, I'd definitely notice.

To repeat something others have said: This is not some kind of scenario where, lulz, that city that's next to New York but isn't New York went and elected a mayor who hates books oh man what doofuses. It's calling the bluff of a state legislature that's dragging its feet on allowing the city to make the financial changes (taxes, pension) we need to continue operating in a godawful economic situation. Also, when all's said and done, the city has to have a working valid budget - if you're facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall, you don't have a choice, you have to figure out what actually dealing with that shortfall would do, an how you'll deal if the state legislature - which, as others have noted, despises the cities - decides to fuck you over. It's not like you can just go on and say, oh well, we'll just keep everything open anyway, and not have a backup plan.
posted by Tomorrowful at 9:19 AM on September 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


To be fair, can San Antonio really be considered a city?

of course not - first of all, it's in texas - second, they roll it up every summer to follow the buffalo - third, it's one of those places you fly over - fourth, it's in texas - fifth, it's not new york or los angeles - sixth, people drink pbr there non-ironically - seventh, it's in texas
posted by pyramid termite at 9:21 AM on September 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know what really makes me worried about this? It's going to cost these libraries a lot of money to go through the motions of closing if it turns out that they don't close. Established workflows are going to have to stop in their tracks and be redirected. Standing orders will have to be cancelled (and then reissued if the libraries stay open). Staff is going to have to explain to every patron that the loan period on their items has changed. If the libraries stay open, there will be a flood of people coming or calling or e-mailing on October 1 asking to renew all of their materials. People are going to stop paying their fines. Isn't this whole process going to end up costing a fair amount of money itself? And what about the people who assume that they're losing their jobs, and they go out and find other work? This process will cause at least some reduction in staff if the libraries do stay open. Will those positions be filled after the budget crisis is over and the doomsday plan isn't implemented? Hard to say; probably not. This plan just seems like it is going to cause a great deal of harm, whether it is carried out or not.
posted by k8lin at 9:21 AM on September 12, 2009


Philly Mag did a great story Mike vs. Mike summing up the frustrations over Nutter's perfomance as mayor versus his reform oriented campaign promises. I think his story echoes Obama's in a lot of ways, he's a super smart young-ish black politician that doesn't resemble the old school John Street/Sharp James model of urban governance. Like Obama he also inherited a big bag of shit in terms of the economy and also had too high expectations looming when he stepped into the office. So there's a sense of disillusionment but on the other hand I think also an unspoken underlying sense of relief that it's him and not someone like John Street trying to navigate what is basically the biggest budget crisis in decades.
posted by The Straightener at 9:24 AM on September 12, 2009


Personally, I don't think people who aren't in Philadelphia or the surrounding region should comment on this issue and Nutter's handling of it.

Personally, I don't think anyone should comment on anything. Ever.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:39 AM on September 12, 2009


This is appalling. Well, maybe if you're lucky you can get a library card in Camden.
posted by Marnie at 10:10 AM on September 12, 2009


Also, when all's said and done, the city has to have a working valid budget - if you're facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall, you don't have a choice, you have to figure out what actually dealing with that shortfall would do, an how you'll deal if the state legislature - which, as others have noted, despises the cities - decides to fuck you over. It's not like you can just go on and say, oh well, we'll just keep everything open anyway, and not have a backup plan.

Sure, that's entirely reasonable, but I'd suggest poring over the budget personally, to make sure that they're not playing bureaucratic brinksmanship.

As I said upthread, when faced with budget shortfalls, young and foolish bureaucrats cut the fat and try to preserve essential services. The old and jaded ones cut the bone out first and leave the fat, to try to weasel more money out of whatever system they're in. This means their departments stay larger, meaning they accrue more power and more promotions. Scumbags gain power, and honest managers lose it. This is no-lose for the scumbags, because even if their bosses are paying attention and refuse the budget, they won't be fired for being dishonest. They'll just be told to redo it.

Iterate that process enough times, and you don't have very many honest managers left in the system.

In big systems with a lot of hands in the budgetary pie, like California, this game is much harder to play. But in smaller budgets that are controlled by just a few people, it's easy to do. If you live there, it's probably worth taking the time to check.
posted by Malor at 10:26 AM on September 12, 2009


I should amend this sentence:

In big systems with a lot of hands in the budgetary pie, like California, this game is much harder to play.

More accurately, it's harder to play that game at the legislative level. In the individual departments, it's very very easy to play. And it's much harder for individual citizens to check on the budgets for specific departments.
posted by Malor at 10:29 AM on September 12, 2009


A friend of mine is a librarian in the Rare Books Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia. A few months ago, she put together a beautiful collection of medieval manuscripts and coupled it with a performance by world renowned early musicians, Quidditas. It was free. misanthropicsarah and I went to see it together.

That department *alone* holds treasures that you wouldn't believe, and serves as an important resource for academics both near and far. One of Dickens' two writing desks, and his pet crow Hank (who is believed to have served as inspiration for Poe's famous poem) all are housed there. A beautifully illustrated version of Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" was on display the first time I visited. And when I facetiously asked my friend to show me their Gutenberg Bible, she gleefully tromped over to a storage case and unlocked a sheaf from one such book. Afterward, she showed me a collection of cuneiform tablets - receipts mostly, for the sale of camels, slaves, and the other trappings of life in antiquity.

I know its silly and sentimental, but it ranks up there as one of the most profound experiences in my life. There I was, inches from the first movable type, and TOUCHING (!) sales receipts for people in the fertile crescent. I know only a godless NPR-loving liberal would get misty-eyed over this sort of thing, but I can't help it: history has made us who we are, and if someone isn't locked away in that humidity controlled environment protecting those treasures, then we'll forget and continue doing all manner of stupidity.

The librarians here can speak for themselves - probably more passionately and eloquently than I could - about the importance of their work. But on a personal level, I would be devastated to see that library close.
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:32 AM on September 12, 2009 [13 favorites]


I understand that this is at the local level not the Federal...

But with dozens of states with similar issues, with the cost of health care being the huge Federal issue that it is... why doesn't anyone mention the elephant in the room, the huge military budget?

Fairly small cuts in the huge defense budget would pay for all these libraries, street lights, police, as well as public health care.

Unfortunately, we never get that choice - our two candidates are always strongly pro-military. I think it's very telling that the one time Obama really applied force to recalcitrant Democrats was in order to get the budget for his expanded Afghanistan war passed.

I've often said that Americans would rather kill other people's children than help their own, and this is truer than ever.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:01 AM on September 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Here in Arizona they just threaten to eviscerate public education, and then the Republican legislature says "OK." And now we are Mississippi.
posted by nestor_makhno at 11:36 AM on September 12, 2009


Pennsylvania hasn't had a budget since July 1st.

Tomorrowful is exactly right. We didn't collect nearly as many taxes as predicted and we can't meet our pension promises.

So in order to avoid raising taxes or changing our pension promises, we're making social cuts.

Here's a short list of state wide what's already happened: PreK and Headstarts are closed, college students didn't get financial aid, abuse and rape crisis centers are short staffed, mental health centers are either closed or offering long delays for counseling, GED classes are cut, alternative high schools and counseling for at risk students are cut, positions within traditional schools have been cut, career transition/development centers are closing, senior citizens are not receiving as many food vouchers, and day cares are starting to close which is pulling people out of the workforce and school... many of these things would not be restored in the bill that was announced yesterday.

Most of the people who have been hit so far are on the economic margins. They're people who are too easily invisible. The big difference with shutting off the street lights and closing the libraries is that maybe more people will notice there's a problem.
posted by arabelladragon at 11:41 AM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So what happens when some rich people come in and start gentrifying your neighborhood, thus increasing property values to the point that you can no longer afford the taxes on your land?

It'd depend on the zoning. If it's an area we want to see higher density, if I were running things you'd eventually lose your ground lease to the higher bidder and have to establish residence somewhere else, to facilitate this progress.

Land is expensive because it is limited and carries a speculative premium. The important thing as I see it is to drive most of the value of real estate out of land value and into the capital improvements themselves. If we do this then I think the structure of cities will be denser and a lot smarter, and living under the area median would be essentially free (in that the rentiers that actively prey on the subprime class would be directly taxed out that line of parasitism).

Related to the William Penn direction I took above, last night I was researching the general land economy of the early nation. Turns out many great landowners lost their asses in the panic of 1797, found themselves land-rich (we're talking millions of acres but unable to service their debts and thus thrown into prison by their lenders. This included Robert Morris, formerly the richest man in America. The first bankruptcy act came about in 1800 in response to this.

Wikipedia: "In America, problems first emerged with the Bubble of land speculation bursting in 1796." Substitute the date for any of a dozen other dates. While a LVT regime would not be perfect in every respect -- security of tenancy is indeed one issue I struggle with -- it would make things a lot better than they are now, AFAICT.
posted by Palamedes at 11:56 AM on September 12, 2009


In this day of swine flu and other illnesses, they're proposing halting trash pickup to twice a month?

My city does trash pickup twice a month, and I can assure you that all you need to do is toss the bag of garbage into the wheelie bin outside and eventually it will be taken by the landfill fairies. You will not die of pigflu, cholera, or panic.
posted by cmonkey at 12:16 PM on September 12, 2009


For what it's worth, I also wouldn't enter into a serious conversation on the crisis in Philadelphia without mentioning Ed Rendell. No one's mentioned him or his role in all of this.

Nutter inherited a big, giant, stinking mess of a budget shortfall. To reiterate for our non-Philadelphian Mefites: the urban-specific needs of Philly (and Pittsburgh) are constantly being overridden by state government, who apparently think that laws that work in small towns and farmland are one-size-fits-all. Philly was blocked from passing its own gun control laws because our more conservative state politicians don't want anyone messing with the right to bear arms! (And hey, stray bullets aren't killing their kids.) We very nearly got two giant big-box slots casinos forcibly slapped within a few miles of each other, both within a couple of blocks of residential neighborhoods, on a road ludicrously unable to handle the traffic. The state judiciary ruled that City Council was ineligible to oppose the land permits. (As far as I can tell, it's the national economy that is derailing those casinos more than anything else, though we sure have fought the good fight here.)

What does this have to do with Ed Rendell? He's widely felt to have sold out to the state when he became governor. This was his city. Nutter and Rendell aren't buddy-buddy, but some of that whiff of desperation is Nutter hoping that Rendell has enough of a soft spot for the hometown to which he owes his current position that perhaps he won't let it be destroyed. Especially since Rendell knows damn well how state govt ties up the Philly budget.
posted by desuetude at 12:22 PM on September 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


My city does trash pickup twice a month, and I can assure you that all you need to do is toss the bag of garbage into the wheelie bin outside and eventually it will be taken by the landfill fairies. You will not die of pigflu, cholera, or panic.

I don't think that my empty half-and-half container is going to give anyone swine flu, but FWIW, most of us here don't have a place to put a wheelie-bin. Obviously those in apartments and condos don't, but even in the rowhouse neighborhoods, not everyone has a backyard and if you leave a bin out front, they're just going to get besieged by flies, stray cats, squirrels, rats, stink, and random trash thrown in by passers-by. (Speaking from experience.)
posted by desuetude at 12:30 PM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


My city does trash pickup twice a month, and I can assure you that all you need to do is toss the bag of garbage into the wheelie bin outside and eventually it will be taken by the landfill fairies.

Well, you only get a dumpster if you live in a multi-unit apartment building and I can assure you that even those fill up within a week. The apartment building next to my house has dumpster that pretty routinely overflows during the week, I'd hate to think what it would look like after two.
posted by octothorpe at 12:53 PM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like Philly wants to be Far Southeast Detroit.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:43 PM on September 12, 2009


Or Hussein, right? LOL

If you had told me back in 1990 that in 18 years we would elect a 2nd generation African-American with direct lineage from Kenya, named Barack Hussein Obama, I would have laughed and told you that you were fucking nuts. Especially if you told me we'd elect George HW Bush's dufus son first.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2009


You know what San Antonio has? A budget that keeps the libraries open for the next year...
posted by nushustu at 2:40 PM on September 12, 2009


My public library back in Nowhere, Vermont had a sign in it that said "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

In my own life, I would say that this is true and even though I'm not in Philly, reading this feels like a punch in the gut.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


This twice-a-month garbage pickup, is that only for the outlying residential areas? I live in downtown San Francisco and we have garbage pickup seven days a week. Every two weeks sounds crazy for the downtown core.
posted by ryanrs at 3:12 PM on September 12, 2009


I work in a suburban private school, and I live in Philadelphia. I've already felt the effect of the state and city budget problem. State: We didn't get our state-order books, so we're going without. City: Today I got the automated message telling us the trash collection may be every other week after the beginning of October. Interestingly, weekly recycling pickup will continue. I have tickets to a talk by an author at the Free Library for October 5, which I may not get to see.

As for those who don't think restricted trash pickup would have much effect--remember that in a city the density of population is a lot higher than in the suburbs. And for anyone who thinks someone else's dumpster will work out, you haven't seen the disgusting, rank proliferation of refuse that happens when people start doing that en masse.
posted by Peach at 3:29 PM on September 12, 2009


You know what San Antonio has? A budget that keeps the libraries open for the next year...

You know what Philadelphia has? A public transit system that, while imperfect, is good enough that I'm one of two people I know who bothers to own a car.

For fuck's sake, the entire state of California is in a massive budget crisis - it's really not so shocking or unusual that in this economic state, Philadelphia has a problem. For that matter, it's not like Philly has no idea how to handle this - we (okay, our city counsel) has said ok, we're going to deal with this by raising taxes to handle the budget shortfall. The problem is that the state has the power to prevent or permit the actions that we're trying to take to correct the budget shortfall. We do have a budget that will keep libraries open, we just need some infamously anti-city rural politicians to get off their asses and let us enact it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 3:32 PM on September 12, 2009


Oh, BTW, I love Philadelphia and moved back here after my daughter grew up (yeah, the schools are a bit tough). It's a great city and I hope to grow old here in what realtors call Fairmount and the neighbors call Brewerytown.
posted by Peach at 3:32 PM on September 12, 2009


Tax land owners and land owners . . . pay the tax, by definition.
Actually, they abandon the property and go away, without a forwarding address.
posted by Peach at 3:35 PM on September 12, 2009


I love Philly, but that city has been mismanaged for years, by all kinds of different entities. Back in my broke years, I spent a lotta time in that central library -- it is (was?) rad.

Here's the deal with Philly taxes, though -- if you live / work in Philly, you pay an extra wage tax already. It's pretty substantial, and yet the services in Philly... uhhh... left something to be desired. It's not too hard to understand why a lot of businesses / people fled to the surrounding area.
posted by ph00dz at 4:46 PM on September 12, 2009


My husband, who is self employed, also pays BPT (business privilege tax). It's an expensive hobby living here, but worth it.
posted by Peach at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2009


I always find it facinating what people find essential and how it varies in each area. For example In Calgary trash collection is every week on the same day regardless of holidays (except xmas I think). And the collectors will take any thing 60lbs or less. Where I'm living now we get sort of weekly pickup because it's delayed by every holiday. And they pitch a fit if the lid on your bin doesn't close. They do allow you to buy stickers for extra pick up at $2 each but that only allows you a single regular bag of 40lbs max weight.

Street lights are only in alleys if at least four people backing onto the alley agree to split the ~$40 monthly cost of powering the street light. You see very few ally streetlights.

Flashing intersection lights are wide spread at night in industrial areas (which is handy because you don't have to wait for a complete cycle) in Calgary but I've never seen one here.

"Or move away.

"I bet no one clamoring for higher taxes has had his property tax bill go up between $250 and $1000 *every* year like it has in my area."


How long has that been going on? That would be like a 100% increase here.

"I don't really get the appeal of those; I mean, you have to grab a handle in order to pull down the opening of the garbage cans, and while I'm not in any way germophobic, is the public at large really all that psyched to have to physically interact with a garbage can, rather than simply tossing rubbish into a hole-shaped receptacle?"

Is pulling the handle a huge chore when you are sending a letter? Opening a door? Pulling the cord to stop the bus? This seems like a pretty low level annoyance considering the savings and I'm guessing the door equipped receptacles are nicer looking than an open bin of garbage.
posted by Mitheral at 4:59 PM on September 12, 2009


In the invectives of Republicans and libertarians against public institutions, how many have condemned public libraries (in general, not the addition of individual books that they find objectionable)?

You would think they'd be happy about the dissemination of their works to the public, though where I live, most of the books by people like Hannity, Beck, and Coulter remain on the shelves, unread.

The Rs seem to hate public education on principle, though, so public libraries are probably the next target.
posted by bad grammar at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2009


The thing I don't like about the solar compacting trash cans is how grody their hoppers are. I just used one today and it was like peering into a dumpster.
posted by Peach at 6:10 PM on September 12, 2009


Pennsylvania is Philly on one side, Pittsburgh on the other, and Kentucky in between (sorry Kentucky). As has been stated, the legislature is controlled by Republicans from the Kentucky bits who hate Philadelphia, not least because it is the economic engine of the state and pays their fucking salaries. Their refusal to expedite this matter - either pass a fucking budget or convene a special session granting Philly the autonomy to raise sales tax and adjust the pension scheme --at a cost of ZERO FUCKING DOLLARS TO THE TAXPAYERS-- is just a jaded and shameful attempt to embarrass and weaken the democratic mayor of the city without a thought to the suffering this will engender. Never mind that he's a business-friendly guy who may, if given a tiny modicum of support from the apes in the legislature, swell the state's coffers in times to come. The Republican legislature is cutting off its nose to spite its face and it's a borderline-criminal disgrace. I will never vote for a Republican in my life because of petty shit like this.
posted by Mister_A at 7:32 PM on September 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, and it's not technically accurate to say raising sales tax won't cost taxpayers; but it will only cost those who buy a thing in Philly.
posted by Mister_A at 7:33 PM on September 12, 2009


So the city government in Philly only wants permission to raise the sales tax within the city limits? Or are they basically asking for money from the state government?

That would seem to change the situation quite a bit. If it's the former, then there doesn't seem to be any good reason—that I can see anyway—for the state government to object. Even if they're anti-tax, might as well just let the urbanites tax themselves if that's what they want to do, right? If it's the latter, then it would seem like the city government really is pointing the proverbial gun at the population in order to extort money from the rest of the state. That's what it sounded like was going on initially, but based on what Mister_A and others have said, it's inaccurate.

I can understand people living in, say, Centre County not being particularly willing to see their taxes go up to support Philly (although I would expect that in normal times, the city probably subsidizes rural services quite significantly), and opposing a sales tax increase on that basis, but no legitimate reason to hold up a tax increase that's limited to the city.

If it's basically just a state/city pissing match, it's a pretty high-stakes one.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:41 PM on September 12, 2009


So the city government in Philly only wants permission to raise the sales tax within the city limits? Or are they basically asking for money from the state government?

100% the former. Well, raise the sales tax and also permission to postpone payments into the city workers' pensions. But, no, we're not asking for money from the state. (Wrong, I know, we are - but this issue has nothing to do with that.) It's not "hey, rest of the state that we usually support, please bail us out," it's "please let us tax ourselves." It would have ZERO effect on the rest of the state, except inasmuch as residents of Montgomery County (etc) buy things inside Philadelphia.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:48 PM on September 12, 2009


Jesus fucking christ, I've played simcity, I know how this ends.

It's called GODZILLA.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:06 AM on September 13, 2009


If it's the former, then there doesn't seem to be any good reason—that I can see anyway—for the state government to object.

Hence the terrible logic of the "Doomsday Budget." This shit has been going on forever, and Philly always finds a way to rob Peter to pay Paul or cooks the books or makes quiet cuts and the mayor finds some way to avoid getting fingers pointed at him. And then next year, we're back to begging and our crime rate is up and everyone wants to know why the glimmer of progress always seems to come sliding to a halt and everyone blames the wage tax for being a huge disincentive and ha ha Filthadelphia.

I don't agree with every decision Mayor Nutter has made (I'll never forgive him for his support of the Convention Center expansion in the middle of an economic downturn, especially the underhanded demolition that occurred) but he was enjoying a golden honeymoon of lurve, and put his neck on the line to make it crystal clear just how badly Philadelphia needs to be able to make its own damn hard decisions without the state holding us hostage.

Yeah, it's a terrible high-stakes gamble.
posted by desuetude at 11:28 AM on September 13, 2009


Mike Nutter looked like he was having fun at the TD Bank Bike Philly Ride today. Maybe he could look into corporate sponsorship for libraries and fire stations. The Sunoco Northeast Regional Library. Comcast Ladder 17. Like that.
posted by fixedgear at 3:42 PM on September 13, 2009


It's worth pointing out that Pittsburgh's not having the same funding problems for things like libraries because the county set up a 1% sales tax back in the '90s to fund cultural institutions. The Carnegie Library gets most of its funding from that and almost none from the city. Unfortunately a big chunk of that tax money goes to fund stadiums but at least the libraries and museums get some of it.
posted by octothorpe at 8:46 PM on September 13, 2009


Crisis averted, if anyone is still reading.
posted by fixedgear at 1:30 PM on September 17, 2009


Yay! From the Daily News: "Plan C is Terminated."
posted by ocherdraco at 2:08 PM on September 17, 2009


Yay!

Can we go back to trying to create jobs now?
posted by Deathalicious at 3:10 PM on September 17, 2009


Also, mental note: time to start buying more things locally in the Philadelphia area. Got to make sure the city gets its sales tax.

As a side note: I know there are some big boxes and other companies that don't actually pay the sales tax they gather from customers (they actually get to keep it or something). Does anyone know where I can get a list of stores to avoid?
posted by Deathalicious at 3:11 PM on September 17, 2009


Crisis averted, if anyone is still reading.

It's averted for the libraries, but now arts organizations are heading for one of their own. There will be a new sales tax on museums, theaters, and cultural organizations including zoos. I've read it would be 8% in cities, 6% elsewhere, but I don't think those details are final yet.
posted by gladly at 8:09 AM on September 23, 2009


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