At Tuesday's public hearings for the 2013 Parks & Recreation budget, a cadre of activists wearing green shirts and brandishing signs were joined by a literal peanut (as in wee) gallery (as in balcony) of school kids who periodically chanted a clarion call of "Restore $8 million."
The number referred to, roughly, Mayor Michael Nutter's proposed $47.8 million budget for the department, which is an $8.2 million decrease from the $56 million operating budget that the Administration proposed for FY 2009.
That budget was subsequently cut, however, in response to the economic downturn and has never been restored.
All told, the Department has received $43 million less than what it was originally promised in the FY 2009-2013 Five Year Plan, according to the Philadelphia Parks Alliance.
Additionally, the Alliance claims, the Department never received monies that were promised to the parks after the tax paid by users of municipal parking lots was increased from 15% to 20% in 2008. (Last year, a bill to gradually reduce the tax again passed Council, but was vetoed by Mayor Nutter.)
Blame the economy, said Rebecca Rhynhart, City Budget Director, who was called to the hot seat by Council members.
"It isn't dedicated to parks and rec," she said of the parking tax revenue, "because we needed it to support general fund operations."
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