Philadelphia City Commissioners appeal to appreciative Council for more money

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia City Commissioners are asking for a lot more money for next year than Mayor Jim Kenney proposed in his budget.

Judging from the reception they got in City Council this week, they just might get it.

Budget hearings are frequently contentious with Council members grilling officials but when the commissioners appeared this week, they literally received a hero's welcome.

"We're talking to heroes today," declared Councilman Curtis Jones.

Jones credited the commissioners with restoring the city's reputation, under intense pressure and even death threats, in the November election. Therefore, when Commissioners Chair Lisa Deeley asked for a budget increase of $7 million, almost 40% more than what's in the budget, he was sympathetic.

"If we don't do everything we can do to arm you, and more importantly, to protect the process, it's our fault," he said.

Deeley explained that to get the November results in the time frame they did, they used equipment purchased with a $10 million grant from a nonprofit. But to store, maintain and enhance it, she said, they needed more equipment — electronic poll books — and more staff.

"Our IT staff remains the same two people," she said, "one of which pulls double duty helping to oversee the voter registration program."

Deeley warned the 2022 midterms were likely to see the same scrutiny as the 2020 elections, and Philadelphia needs to be ready.