Philadelphia City Council passes $85 million emergency spending bill to fight COVID-19
The bill, introduced last week, will help City Council members get the word out about coronavirus and cover other city operating costs.
The City Council meeting on April 2 was historic for more than one reason. In addition to passing an $85 million emergency spending bill to fight COVID-19, it was the first ever meeting held virtually in the history of Philadelphia’s governing body.
The move to meet remotely was in accordance with the city’s stay-at-home to curb the spread of coronavirus and the $85 million bill was the only piece of legislation discussed.
At a virtual town hall held last Thursday, March 26 with low-wage workers, Councilmember Mark Squilla called the $85 million a “band-aid” until Philadelphia’s federal aid is allocated from the CARES Act.
Four-hundred thousand of the $85 million will go to City Council, for its members to use to get the word out in their districts about COVID-19 and the importance of social distancing.
The money will come from the city’s general fund and the messaging will take the form of robocalls, billboards, social media and mailers.
“Too frequently, we hear people saying they don’t get that information as a result of the traditional methods of media. We need to be more creative,” City Council President Darrell Clarke told WHYY.
That leaves $84.6 million going towards the Managing Director’s Office to cover payroll, external contracts, taxes and other operating costs for the city.
Majority Leader Cherelle Parker expressed pride at City Council’s ability to work with both state and federal officials to coordinate support like the bill passed on April 2.
“This is the only way that we will maximize the efficient use of the scarce resources available to save the people and businesses in our city from economic calamity," she said in a press release
Mayor Kenney signed the ordinance into law at the Mayor’s Office daily COVID-19 briefing on April 2.
As of April 2, there have been 2,100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths in Philadelphia since it first appeared on March 10.