The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) board approved its annual budget for the fiscal year beginning April 1st which predicts a $2 million dollar decline in PPA payments to the School District of Philadelphia. That expected decline follows a $1 million drop off from last year’s $11 million payment. The PPA expected to send $12 million in the fiscal year ending March 31st, but currently forecasts just $11 million.
For the cash-strapped school district, this unwelcome news, but not catastrophic: Its budget request in 2016 was $2.8 billion. Every year, the PPA hands over its annual profits, after expenses and retained earnings, to the City of Philadelphia and the school district, with the city getting a statutorily set percentage of funds based on off-street parking revenues, and the schools getting whatever remains.
Overall PPA payments to the city and the schools totalled $45.8 million—$4.5 million less than the PPA expected, and $1.9 million less than last year. The PPA blamed this year’s drop off on the Papal visit in September, which resulted in $1.8 million in lost revenues and additional expenses, and the January 2016 snowstorm, which cost $2.6 million. Additional pension costs also ate into revenues.
Pension costs are set to increase $4.7 million in the coming fiscal year. The PPA uses the city’s pension program. For fiscal year 2017, the PPA expects to send $38.1 million to the city and $8 million to the school district.
Work to replace stairwells to the PPA’s parking lots underneath Independence Mall will begin in two weeks, said PPA Engineer Chris Perks. The rehabbed stairwells will receive sparkling, new glass canopies—think Dilworth Park’s glass pavilions, said Perks—providing code-mandated cover from the elements.
The $1.3 million project will be the first rehabilitation of the stairs and surrounding sidewalks along 5th Street since the subterranean parking lot opened in 1967—this was pretty much the only part of Independence Mall not overhauled for the 1976 Bicentennial.
The project is scheduled to finish construction shortly before July, when Independence Day, summer tourism, and the Democratic National Convention should pack the lot.