Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
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 DelegationPennsylvania State LegislaturePennsylvania 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]

Office of the Mayor

Michael Nutter is the current Mayor of Philadelphia. Nutter served on the Philadelphia City Council for 14 years.[2]

City Council

Philadelphia's legislative body is the City Council, made up of 17 members from ten council districts and seven at-large members. The City Council meets every at 10:00 AM.[3]

A full list of City Council members can be found here.

A Council President is elected by the body.[4] The current speaker is Darrell L. Clarke.

There are 22 council committees: Appropriations, Commerce & Economic Development, Disabled & Special Needs, Education, The Environment, Ethics, Finance, Fiscal Stability & Intergovernmental Cooperation, Housing, Global Opportunities & Creative Innovative Economy, Law & Government, Labor & Civil Service, Licenses & Inspections, Legislative Oversight, Public Health & Human Services, Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs, Public Safety, Property & Public Works, Streets & Services, Rules, Technology & Information Services and Transportation & Public Utilities.[5]



See also: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania municipal elections, 2015

The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania will hold elections for mayor and city council in 2015. Information on election dates will be posted once they are made available. All 17 city council seats are up for election.


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.[6]

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.[7]

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


The City of Philadelphia paid for $192,500 in federal lobbying in 2013. The city filed for three issues relating to Transportation, three relating to Urban Development, two relating to Health Issues, two relating to Housing and one each relating to Economics & Economic Development, Immigration, Law Enforcement & Crime, Labor, Antitrust & Workplace, Taxes, Travel & Tourism and Firearms, Guns & Ammunition.[8]

The City of Philadelphia maintains a database of all lobbying activity here.

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)

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:[9]

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.[10]


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.[11] The report stated that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[11]

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.[12]
  • Council members are listed with contact information.[13]
  • Meeting dates, agendas, and minutes are posted.[14]
  • Taxes can be paid online.[15]
  • Local tax information is provided.[16]
  • City contracts and bids are posted.[17]
  • Ethics legislation and financial disclosure requirements are available through the city's Board of Ethics.[18]
  • Permits and zoning information is provided.[19][20]
  • Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports are posted.[21]
  • The city's Open Records Policy and contact information is posted.[22]
  • A searchable phone directory is available.[23] 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, "Mayor's Biography," accessed April 30, 2014
  3. Philadelphia City Council, "About," accessed April 30, 2014
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named About
  5. Philadelphia City Council, "Standing Committees," accessed April 30, 2014
  6., "Nutter's budget: Expanded L&I, $16M for Streets Dept.," March 6, 2014
  7., "Intermediate Budget Info," accessed April 30, 2014
  8. Open Secrets, "City of Philadelphia, PA," accessed April 30, 2014
  9. Pennsylvania Department of State, "Instructions for Circulating Nomination Petitions," 2012
  10. Associated Press, "Atlanta to San Diego: 7 cities' pension problems," January 2, 2013]
  11. 11.0 11.1 MacIver Institute, "City of Milwaukee Pension a Ticking Time Bomb According to Northwestern Study," October 12, 2010
  12. City of Philadelphia, "Budget Details," accessed August 6, 2014
  13. City of Philadelphia, "Council Members," accessed August 6, 2014
  14. City of Philadelphia, "Meeting Calendar," accessed August 6, 2014
  15. City of Philadelphia, "Taxes," accessed August 6, 2014
  16. City of Philadelphia, "Tax Revenue Department," accessed August 6, 2014
  17. City of Philadelphia, "eContracts," accessed August 6, 2014
  18. City of Philadelphia, "Board of Ethics," accessed August 6, 2014 (dead link)
  19. City of Philadelphia, "Permits & Certificates," accessed August 6, 2014
  20. City of Philadelphia, "Planning Department," accessed August 6, 2014
  21. City of Philadelphia, "Comprehensive Annual Financial Report," accessed August 6, 2014
  22. City of Philadelphia, "Right to Know," accessed August 6, 2014
  23. City of Philadelphia, "Phone Directory," accessed August 6, 2014