Mayor Nutter held a budget meeting yesterday that was short on new developments but had an ominous tone about the potential consequences of the city’s $148 million deficit.
While Nutter defended the proposed garbage and soda taxes and was adamant that the city could not slash the budget any further without withstanding unacceptable service cuts, he hinted darkly that layoffs could be in our future if he and Council can’t find common ground on new sources of revenue.
About complaints that the proposed soda tax could cost jobs in the beverage industry, Nutter said: “That’s a false argument made to deliver hysteria . . . It’s a bunch of crap. It’s stupid. It’s just crazy.”
Furthermore, voters should be more concerned about paying the police, firefighters, librarians and other city workers, he continued. “Those are the jobs we need to worry about.”
When asked whether the administration has contingency plans in the event that the three other municipal unions get pay increases commensurate with the 7%-over-five-year raise the police received last fall, Nutter answered: “We’ll have to adjust. It might result in more cuts, might result in additional layoffs. One way or another we’re going to have a balanced budget.”
The mayor did announce that the city will invest $125 million in IT services over the next five years with a goal of continuing to shrink the government’s payroll. “We are scrutinizing any hirings that are made.”
Back to the soda tax, he said: “No one is dying of thirst in this city. You’re going to be drinking something.”
See you at the bar, Mike.
With the soda and garbage taxes too controversial, Council has resorted to new, slightly more progressive taxes to balance the budget. Not surprisingly, there are still problems.
So the tax would affect the poor, but not for very long. Once that “70 percent tax” brings each purchase into focus—Is this jug of syrupwater really necessary?—soda, one hopes, would return to its traditional role: an every-so-often treat.