The City of Philadelphia had recently released the proposed six-year capital budget for the years 2019 to 2024. The proposed capital budget is a collaboration of the Office of Budget and Program Evaluation and the City Planning Commission. It is a plan to invest in the city’s physical and technological infrastructure, neighborhood and community facilities, and public buildings. The funding for these capital improvements comes from new borrowing of $171.7 million and $459.3 of prior year taxpayer-supported loans, leveraged with $2.3 billion of federal, state, private, self-sustaining enterprise, operating, and revolving fund sources. The proposed capital budget will be voted upon by City Council later this year.
The proposed capital budget would fund repaving of 131 miles of streets over the six years of the budget. The budget would expand the number of bikeshare stations into more neighborhoods. Police and fire stations would be renovated, with a new one in Strawberry Mansion, and $10 million each year would be used to purchase new police cars, fire engines, and ambulances. Another priority of the budget would be to support the city’s Rebuild program, which seeks to renovate and replace many of the city’s recreation centers, libraries, playgrounds, and parks. The Rebuild program is funded by city sources, including the sugary drinks tax, and philanthropic funds.
The most exciting projects would add waterfront and cultural improvements to the city. The budget would include $90 million to build a new park at Penn’s Landing and money to continue extending trails along the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The new Penn’s Landing park would include decks over I-95 between Market and Walnut Streets. The Philadelphia Zoo would get more improvements and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Central Library would see further improvements. The Museum of Art would see renovations in the core of the building and an expansion into unused space, mostly under the large stairs in front. The stairs would, also, see renovations. The Central Library would continue its renovation and add public spaces in its underused sections.
The city’s capital budget sets a path for continued investment in the city’s growth and infrastructure. It, also, creates new opportunities for economic growth. The proposed capital budget will soon go to City Council for hearings and their consideration. Once Council votes to approve the budget, the first fiscal year of 2019 will also be approved for actual spending to begin from the budget plan.
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