The ambitions of the $4.1 billion budget Philadelphia's Mayor Jim Kenney outlined Thursday hinge largely on new borrowing and a proposed soda tax.
The first-year mayor's spending proposal involves issuing $100 million in bonds to cover investments for energy efficiencies on certain city-owned buildings. The Democrat also wants to spend $350 million toward infrastructure improvements in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries through a three-cent sugary drink tax. The tax, which has been defeated in past mayoral administrations, would also pay for allocating $26 million toward the city's pension fund, which is currently less than 50% funded.
"I won't pretend that this $26 million investment will solve all our pension fund's underlying problems," said Kenney in prepared budget remarks. "Making this $26 million investment is still an important indication to the credit agencies, our lenders, and, most importantly, to the city workforce that the Mayor and City Council are committed to addressing this serious problem."
Kenney was sworn in to replace former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter in January. The city received four credit upgrades under Nutter and is now rated A-plus by Standard & Poor's, A2 by Moody's Investors Service and A-minus by Fitch Ratings.