Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Seal of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.svg
General information
Michael Nutter.jpg
Mayor:Michael Nutter
Mayor party:Democratic
Last mayoral election:2011
Next mayoral election:2015
Last city council election:2011
Next city council election:2015
City council seats:17
2015 FY Budget:$4.5 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:1.55 million
Gender:52.8% Female
Race:White 45.7%
White Not-Hispanic 36.6%
African American 44.3%
Asian 6.8%
Native American 0.8%
Pacific Islander 0.1%
Two or More 2.3%
Ethnicity:Hispanic 13.0%
Median household income:$37,016
High school graduation rate:80.4%
College graduation rate:23.2%
Related Philadelphia offices
Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation
Pennsylvania State Legislature
Pennsylvania state executive offices
Philadelphia is a city in Pennsylvania and the seat of Philadelphia County. It is the center of the Delaware Valley Metropolitan Area. As of 2013, its population was 1.55 million, making Philadelphia the fifth-largest city in the United States.[1]

City government

The city of Philadelphia utilizes a "strong mayor" and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body while the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.[2][3]


The mayor serves as the city's chief executive and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations. The mayor also represents the city on the state, national and international levels. Michael Nutter is the current Mayor of Philadelphia.[4][5]

City council

The Philadelphia City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.[6]


The Philadelphia City Council is made up of seventeen members. Ten are elected by the city's ten districts, while the other seven are elected at-large.[6]

A current list of council members can be found here.

Council committees

The Philadelphia City Council features twenty-two standing committees, which focus on individual policy and legislative issues. Generally, the drafting of city legislation begins with the committees.[7]

A current list of Philadelphia City Council committees can be found here.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the Philadelphia City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council.[8]

For a full list of Philadelphia city boards and commissions, see here.



See also: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania municipal elections, 2015

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will hold elections for mayor and city council on November 3, 2015. A primary election will take place on May 19, 2015. The filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election is September 19, 2015. All 17 city council seats are up for election.[9]


The budget for fiscal year 2015 totals $4.5 billion, and includes increased funding for the Department of Licenses and Inspections, $45 million for potential labor obligations, $132 million in capital investments, $3 million for technology upgrades, $15 for parks and recreation and $16 million for repaving roads.[10]

The city's budget process operates by Fiscal Years running from July 1 to June 30 of the next year. Fiscal Years are named by the year in which they end, not when they begin. The Mayor drafts and proposes a budget to the City Council, who then debates the budget. The City Council must adopt the budget by a majority vote, and once adopted the Mayor signs the budget into law. Because the city is required by law to have a balanced budget, the Mayor's initial proposal is particularly important. The City Council cannot propose changes to the budget that require it to spend more money than the Mayor's projected incomes.[11]

Contact information

City Hall
1401 John F Kennedy Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-1776
Office Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday

Office of the Mayor
Room 215 City Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215-686-2181
Office Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday


In 2013, Philadelphia's federal lobbying related expenses amounted to approximately $242,500.[12] The issues for which the city filed in 2013, as well as the number of reports, can be seen in the box below. The issues column lists the generic issues that lobbyists working for local governments are required by law to disclose on quarterly federal disclosure forms.[13][14] The reports column gives the number of reports lobbyists filed in regards to each generic issue. To learn more about the details of the specific issues for which Philadelphia filed reports, read the federal disclosure forms by clicking the "Issues" links in the box below. Philadelphia maintains a database of all lobbying activity associated the city. It can be accessed here.

Federal Lobbying Issues, 2013
Reports Issues
3 Health Issues
3 Aviation, Airlines & Airports
3 Transportation
3 Urban Development
2 Economics & Econ Development
2 Housing
1 Immigration
1 Law Enforcement & Crime
1 Labor, Antitrust & Workplace
1 Taxes
1 Travel & Tourism
1 Firearms, Guns & Ammunition

Ballot measures

See also: Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania ballot measures

The city of Philadelphia is in Philadelphia County. A list of ballot measures in Philadelphia County is available here.

Initiative process

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia is governed by a charter. Initiative is available for charter amendments as provided below:

Petition form: The name and address of the person filing the petition must be clearly stated on the petition.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2943 (a)

Signature requirements: Petitions must contain signatures equal to 10% of the last local, general election vote for governor.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2943 (a)

Circulation period: Petitions must be submitted by the 13th Tuesday before the election. Petitions may be circulated for (at most) 7 weeks, and circulation may not begin before the 20th Tuesday prior to the election. Initiated measures may be submitted at primary, municipal, or general elections.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2943 (a)

Circulator restrictions: In 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down Pennsylvania's in-district residency requirement with respect to nomination petition circulators. It is unclear how this decision affects the requirement as applied to initiative petition circulators.

DocumentIcon.jpg In Re: The Nomination Petitions and Papers of Carl Stevenson as a Candidate for State Representative in the 134th Legislative District (March 26, 2012) (dead link)'

Notary requirement: Yes, petition circulators must attest to the validity of petition signatures in a notarized affidavit. The law itself does not seem to specify that the affidavit be notarized. However, this state-published guide says notarization is required:[15]

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Unconsolidated Statutes, "Pennsylvania Election Code," Section 909

Submitting signatures: The petition must be filed with local election officials.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2943 (a)(b)

Election procedure: Election officials must submit successful initiatives to voters at the next primary, general, or municipal election occurring not sooner than the 13th Tuesday after the initiative was filed.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2943 (a)

Majority required: No supermajority requirement found.

Conflicting measures: If two or more conflicting measures are approved, the measure receiving the largest number of affirmative votes prevails over the others.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2941 (c)

Subject restrictions: No pension cuts for current/former employees.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2962 (c) (3)


Pensions: Charter cities and counties may not reduce the rights/privileges/benefits entitled to retired municipal employees.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2962 (c)(3)

General: With respect to certain issues, a city's charter may not change the powers usually granted to cities of its class. Those issues are as follows:

1. Filing and collection of municipal taxes
2. Exercising the power of eminent domain
3. Changing local boundaries
4. Regulating public schools
5. Voter registration and the conduct of elections
6. Fixing which things are subject to taxation
7. Setting tax rates of non-property or personal taxes for nonresidents*
8. Assessing real or personal property and persons for tax purposes
9. Setting punishments for felonies or misdemeanors
10. Municipal planning under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code.
*Charter cities/counties are not subject to caps on tax rates for residents, but are not permitted to levy a larger tax on nonresidents than permitted in general law cities.

In addition, charter cities/counties may not:

1. Engage in private business (except as permitted by state law)
2. Exercise powers "contrary to or in limitation or enlargement of" powers granted by statutes of statewide application
3. Reduce the rights/privileges/benefits entitled to retired municipal employees
4. Enact consumer protection regulations on goods or services already regulated under state law, unless the local regulations are identical with state regulations
5. Enact laws contrary to state municipal labor laws enacted prior 1972*
6. Determine withholding/tax reporting requirements for business except as expressly provided by state law.
7. Regulate firearms
8. Impose retroactive fees for municipal services already provided.
*Cities that are or were "second class A" cities, may reduce police or firefighting forces for economic reasons.

State statutes that apply throughout the state always supercede municipal ordinances or resolutions.

DocumentIcon.jpg Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Title 53, § 2962

Public pensions

See also: Pennsylvania public pensions


The city's unfunded pension liability was $4.5 billion as of July 1, 2012. In response, the city shifted some workers to a hybrid system with a 401(k)-style portion and gave others the option of joining the new plan or contributing more of their own pay to stay with their current benefits.[16]


According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, Philadelphia was one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there was $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[17] The report stated that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[17]

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Pennsylvania city websites
Elected Officials P
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Lobbying P
Public Records
Local Taxes

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

In 2011 Philadelphia earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score.

The good

  • Budget reports are posted.[18]
  • Council members are listed with contact information.[19]
  • Meeting dates, agendas, and minutes are posted.[20]
  • Taxes can be paid online.[21]
  • Local tax information is provided.[22]
  • City contracts and bids are posted.[23]
  • Ethics legislation and financial disclosure requirements are available through the city's Board of Ethics.
  • Permits and zoning information is provided.[24][25]
  • Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports are posted.[26]
  • The city's Open Records Policy and contact information is posted.[27]
  • A searchable phone directory is available.[28] Administrative contact information can also be found within each department.

The bad

  • Direct contact information is not provided for the Mayor. Contact information for written meeting requests is provided only.
  • Does not disclose if it is part of a taxpayer funded lobbying organization.

See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. United States Census Bureau, "American Fact Finder," accessed April 24, 2014
  2. City of Philadelphia, "Government Organization," accessed on October 29, 2014
  3. Philadelphia City Charter, 1.101-102, accessed on October 29, 2014
  4. City of Philadelphia, "Office of the Mayor," accessed on October 29, 2014
  5. Philadelphia City Charter, 1.102, accessed on October 29, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 Philadelphia City Council, "About," accessed on October 29, 2014
  7. Philadelphia City Council, "Standing Committees," accessed April 30, 2014
  8. City of Philadelphia, "Boards and Commissions," accessed on October 29, 2014
  9. Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, "Comprehensive Election Calendar," accessed November 17, 2014
  10., "Nutter's budget: Expanded L&I, $16M for Streets Dept.," March 6, 2014
  11., "Intermediate Budget Info," accessed April 30, 2014
  12. Open Secrets, "City of Philadelphia, PA," accessed April 30, 2014
  13. U.S. House of Representatives: Office of the Clerk, "Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance," accessed on November 11, 2014
  14. Open Secrets, "Methodology," accessed on November 11, 2014
  15. Pennsylvania Department of State, "Instructions for Circulating Nomination Petitions," accessed on October 30, 2014
  16. Associated Press, "Atlanta to San Diego: 7 cities' pension problems," January 2, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 MacIver Institute, "City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study," October 12, 2010
  18. City of Philadelphia, "Budget Details," accessed August 6, 2014
  19. City of Philadelphia, "Council Members," accessed August 6, 2014
  20. City of Philadelphia, "Meeting Calendar," accessed August 6, 2014
  21. City of Philadelphia, "Taxes," accessed August 6, 2014
  22. City of Philadelphia, "Tax Revenue Department," accessed August 6, 2014
  23. City of Philadelphia, "eContracts," accessed August 6, 2014
  24. City of Philadelphia, "Permits & Certificates," accessed August 6, 2014
  25. City of Philadelphia, "Planning Department," accessed August 6, 2014
  26. City of Philadelphia, "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report," accessed August 6, 2014
  27. City of Philadelphia, "Right to Know," accessed August 6, 2014
  28. City of Philadelphia, "Phone Directory," accessed August 6, 2014