Welcomed with a standing ovation, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter appeared as the Keynote speaker during the Lehigh Valley Mayors' and Municipal Officials' Annual Reception held in Bethlehem on Tuesday evening.
Organized by the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the reception was held at SteelStacks, as Mayor Nutter spoke about the importance of a comprehensive plan in government to around 350 LV Mayors and municipal officials.
Nutter explained that after his 2007 election, by September 2008 the City of Philadelphia was facing a minimum of a $450 million defect. "Planning has led us to where we are today," explained Nutter, "We have a balanced budget every year."
Planning takes a great deal of effort, especially to achieve their accomplished goal of not laying off one police officer, one fire fighter, one sanitation worker, or one health care worker during the economic hardships. Nutter cut his own pay, cut spending and examined every service provided by the city to find where outside services could be provided cheaper.
"How you cut, what you cut and the actions you do actually does matter," said Mayor Nutter about the difficulties of working in government. Funding is always the key issue when working in local government.
Nutter stated that the City of Philadelphia focused, as they were "not going to compromise public safety, burden those who are in desperate need of services and not be so desolate the operations of the matter."
The Mayor explained that he has four focuses to the job; public safety, education, economic vitality and running the government with integrity.
Examining public safety, the Mayor brought up the fact that illegal guns are a serious problem in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the county. In focusing on dealing with the deadly issue, Philadelphia has offered anyone who gives information for an arrested conviction or homicide can receive up to $20,000, and $500 if you help take an illegal weapon off the streets.
Another tactic the City utilized was the internet, putting the photos of 100 criminals on the city website and local government access channel. The photos were posted in March and by July, 87 of those 100 criminals were in custody in Philadelphia. "People can do things that make a difference," encouraged the Mayor.
Public education is another huge concern for Nutter stating that we need to invest in public education and community colleges. "This is the time for more funding in education, not less," said Nutter, adding that lifelong learning is for everyone.
"Cities can do a lot of things but we can't do them by ourselves, that's where those partnerships really come into play," said Mayor Nutter, speaking of the importance of federal partnerships.
Thanks to planning, a new city wide plan for Philadelphia has been created, the first time in 40 years, they have revamped the zoning code for the first time in 50 years, and created a new waterfront development plan.
"The cuts the federal government is proposing will be devastating to every city, every municipally, every state across the United States of America," said Nutter, encouraging the government to get back to the business of governing, "They need to start being serious, they are competing with the growth of Philadelphia, of the Lehigh Valley, of Pennsylvania and the United States of America and that is almost un-American."
Nutter also stressed the importance of getting out and placing your vote in the General election November 9, saying that whoever wins either way, we need to get back to work the next day and work together. Mayor Nutter brought his insight to the government issues and the importance of Philadelphia's planning strategies in their successes to those of the Greater Lehigh Valley are