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October 12, 2015

Mayoral candidate Jim Kenney answers the construction industry’s questions

Mayoral Candidate Jim Kenney recently answered industry questions ranging from restructuring L&I to overwhelming regulations on city contracts. Please see excerpts below.

Q: Construction is an industry with high volume and low margins, making the gross receipts tax particularly onerous. A recent proposal would eliminate the net income tax and offset the revenue loss with an increase in the gross receipts tax. Do you support this idea?

A: No. I believe both taxes should be ultimately reduced, but i think it’s unfair to tax individuals based on their gross income rather than the amount of money left in their pockets once they’ve paid their cost of doing business. Ultimately, I am in favor of a change to the state constitution’s uniformity clause to allow the City to tax commercial and residential real estate differently. This will allow us to significantly reduce business and wage taxes, or eliminate them totally.

Q: Recently City Council President Clarke proposed a City Charter change to restructure L&I and create a new department to oversee planning and development. Do you support the change? Why or why not?

A: As Mayor, I would work with the Council President to address the root of the problem he is trying to address with this charter amendment – lack of communication between Council and the Mayor’s Office. I have worked with three mayoral administrations during my time on City Council, and have seen that a strong managing director is vital in creating that line of communication and ensuring that the day to day operations of the departments like L&I are running smoothly. Under the Home Rule Charter the Managing Director is responsible for supervising all service departments, ensuring that a senior administration official is focused on the day to day accessibility issues of government and that they Mayor is able to focus on the larger leadership of the city. In the Kenney Administration, the Managing Director will be the Chief Operating Officer for the City of Philadelphia, ensuring that all departments are operating effectively and efficiently, and implementing the Mayor’s vision and goals for Philadelphia.

Additionally, I do believe that licensing should be separate from inspections. Licensing is an economic development issue, inspections are a life safety issue. We must look at inspections in a different way. My concern with the proposed charter change is where it places the safety functions of the department.

Q: Do you support the Controller’s recent recommendation to double the number of L&I inspectors?

A: Yes. Our inspectors are overworked and cannot possibly keep up with the number of open permits they are tasked with every day. In addition to more inspectors, I would like to include other City departments, such as the Fire Department, into the building safety apparatus. These workers would not conduct building inspections, but they have a keen eye for unsafe conditions and can work concurrently with L&I to insure that construction and demolition are being done safely. 

Q: Many contractors do not bid on public works construction projects, as there are too many regulations. Lack of competition drives up the price the City pays for these projects. What would you do, if anything, to encourage more contractors to participate?

A: The City is a four billion dollar enterprise that consumes a billion dollars in goods and services every year. As Mayor, I would modernize our procurement methods, making the distribution of city contracts a more transparent and accessible process for both the public and local businesses. As part of our procurement reforms, we must do a better job engaging with potential bidders to make sure that we are providing the assistance needed to help meet any regulatory demands. Taxpayers shouldn’t pay a higher price for goods and services because our city government doesn’t know how to communicate. As Mayor, I would work with contractor associations to identify the regulations that are the biggest deterrent to bidding activity and work to identify less onerous ways to ensure that the goal of that regulation is being met so that a broader group of contractors bids on projects. 

Read the full article here.


Source: Construction Today