Understanding the City Budget
Nothing is more important and less understood than the City budget.
It's important because it determines what every City Department and agency can accomplish during a fiscal year--in this case, Fiscal Year 2006 (FY06), beginning July 1st, 2005 and ending on June 30th, 2006. It also determines what we we will pay in taxes, fees, and fines to support these activities.
It's not well understand because it's comprehensive and complicated. The full budget takes up more than 1,500 pages in two sizeable looseleaf notebooks. The City of Philadelphia's Five Year Financial Plan is itself more than 200 pages long. Even elected officials find it hard to keep up with all this. Most citizens--even active citizens--don't have the time.
This online resource guide can help.
As a starting point, use an Adobe Acrobat Reader to download an easy-to-read analysis of the FY04 Budget developed by the Institute for the Study of Civic Values:
A Neighborhood Guide to the City Budget (PDF)
Once you've read the Institute's City Budget Guide, you can access the most important source materials on City spending and taxes from here.
City Budget Documents
Tax Reform and Tax Issues