Mayor William J. Green last night announced the March 1 layoff off 1,219 municipal employes to fight a projected deficit of $28 million this fiscal year. In contrast to the policies of former mayor Frank L. Rizzo, Green hit the police and fire departments the hardest with his personnel reductions.
Nearly 630 police and 245 firefighters will be laid off. Under Rizzo, a former police officer and police commissioner, those departments were sacrosanct.
"These actions are not taken lightly," Green said. "They are not taken without tremendous concern for the health, safety and welfare of the city, its residents and its employes."
His 15-minute address was broadcast live on the city's four television stations. Green said his asking for the television time, an unprecedented move for a Philadelphia mayor, was an indication of the importance of his message.
That message included a warning that the deficit for the next fiscal year could reach $167 million, including the school district's deficit, if preventive action wasn't taken. However, the $42 million he said the layoff would save over the next 17 months would only begin to meet the city's financial problems.
"I must tell you candidly that I see no way to solve this problem and to fully and completely close the gap without a tax increase next year," the mayor warned.
John A. Reilly, president of the city firefighters association said that "people are going to die" in Philadelphia because of the fire department cutbacks.
Green said he is continuing to search for ways to save money. He struck a tough tone, perhaps because all of the city's labor agreements expire this year.
"Nobody is going to run away with the city treasury as long as I am mayor," he said, "be he politician, union leader or land speculator."