Broke in Philly

Mayor Kenney’s budget earmarks about $500 per Philly resident for violence prevention

Some of it is an increase in police funding, which has jumped $26 per person during his tenure. But there are also programs tucked into the Managing Director’s Office.

West Philly residents at a Billy Penn community conversation about anti-violence funding in August 2021

West Philly residents at a Billy Penn community conversation about anti-violence funding in August 2021

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn
jordanlevy-headshot

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


Since Mayor Jim Kenney took office in 2016, the Police Department budget has grown by about $26 for every Philly resident, for a per-person total of $487 in his proposed spending plan for next year.

The prison budget, on the other hand, has dropped by $29 per person. For comparison, Parks & Rec funding is up $1, staying almost even on a per-person basis, and arts and culture funding is dropping by $1 per resident.

Those are some takeaways from a new tool from the City Controller’s Office. It lets you check out how much money the Kenney administration wants to give each part of government if it were allocated for each resident of the city. You can also look at how that’s changed over his tenure.

Overall, the mayor’s $5.6 billion proposed budget for fiscal year 2023 comes out to $3,499 per resident, a 22% jump from the beginning of his term.

Violence prevention makes up a big part of the increase — more than it might seem, since along with the boost in PPD funding, there’s been a trend toward shifting initiatives away from law enforcement and into the Managing Director’s Office.

Everything from the Office of Violence Prevention to school crossing guards is now nested in the MDO, including new initiatives like teen curfew centers, anti-violence community grants, the Community Crisis Intervention Program, and the Citizens Police Oversight Commission.

And more is coming.

The Managing Director’s Office has been a home for anti-violence program funding for over a decade, but that trend has ramped up under Kenney as his administration struggles to combat the city’s record homicides and gun violence. And in 2020, the Philly police budget was held flat by shifting some PPD programs into the MDO.

In the upcoming fiscal year, more than a third of Kenney’s proposed funding for the MDO — about $27 per person — would go toward programs in its Office of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for Criminal Justice & Public Safety. That’s up from a fifth of the overall MDO budget in FY22.

Anti-violence efforts on the managing director’s shoulders

Philadelphia’s managing director is essentially the city’s COO and the mayor’s second in command. The office handles a broad range of city functions and programs, overseeing many city agencies.

It’s a relatively prominent role; the previous person holding the office, Brian Abernathy, resigned in 2020 after taking the blame for mishandling racial justice protests and the police response. Kenney replaced him with Tumar Alexander, a North Philly native with a long history of government service.

Anti-violence programs proposed for the MDO in the next fiscal year include:

  • Piloting Philly’s READI program, modeled after an initiative in Chicago
  • A new Gun Violence Prevention Program that will serve minors involved in or highly at risk of becoming involved in gun violence or other violent crimes.
  • Expanding the restitution fund to offer more youth an opportunity to resolve outstanding restitution obligations that can prevent them from closing their probation cases.
  • Expand restorative justice diversion, a victim-centered diversion program which, in Philly, is only available to minors.
  • Community Crisis Intervention Program expansion
  • Citizens Police Oversight Commission funding
  • $12 million for another round of Anti-Violence Community Expansion Grants
  • Investing in behavioral health supports for people highly at-risk of gun violence through deepening outreach to the target population (which the Roadmap to Safer Communities designates as young men aged 16 to 34), creating new spaces for accessing treatment and covering individuals’ costs related to seeking treatment.
  • Helping up to 3,000 people complete the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP) — a drug court program that diverts people with low-level misdemeanor arrests to treatment and community service — by paying the ~$250 mandatory court costs for people who complete the program.
  • Expanding Gun Homicide Review and launching the Non-Fatal Shooting Review, both of which are modeled on Milwaukee-based programs where law enforcement and community members share information intended to plot a course towards neighborhood specific action items.

What changed since Kenney took office?

The City Controller’s Office developed its new per-person budget explorer to make the budget more real to people, instead of the abstraction that can occur in conversations about millions and billions of spending.

To calculate per-person spend for each department, the office divided its budget by Philly’s population at the time, then adjusted for inflation so the numbers in different years were comparable. The resulting amount is close — though not exactly equivalent to — the share of funds each individual taxpayer contributes.

Here’s a look at some of the changes since Kenney became mayor.

Police

The contribution to the Police Department has risen by $26, for a FY23 total of $487. The city’s largest individual department has seen a 6% increase since FY16, but PPD’s share in the overall budget has fallen from 16% to 14% since Kenney’s been in office.

Fire

The contribution to the Fire Department has risen by $80, for a FY23 total of $237.That’s a 51% increase since FY16, one of the largest departmental lifts under Kenney.

Courts

The contribution to the court system has risen by $4, for a FY23 total of $156. This accounts for the District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Defender Association, and more.

Prisons

The contribution to Prisons has decreased by $29, for a FY23 total of $153. A 16% decrease in funding has taken place since the Kenney admin began, in part because of the decreasing jail population in the city.

Managing Director’s Office

The contribution to the Managing Director’s Office has risen by $49, for a FY23 total of $75. Almost tripling since Kenney’s first budget, the Managing Director’s Office has mostly grown due to the many anti-violence programs and PPD initiatives that have been directed through that agency.

Parks & Rec

The contribution to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation has grown by $1, for a FY23 total of $42. This figure is one of the most static trends among Philly’s departments.

Library

The contribution to the Free Library has grown by $6, for a FY23 total of $35. This change represents an increase of about 20% in library funding over Kenney’s term.

Arts & Culture

The contribution to Arts & Culture (i.e. the Mural Arts Program and the city’s Art Museum fund) has decreased by $1, for a FY23 total of $5.

A decent portion of the city’s arts funding is now contained in the Managing Director’s Office, where the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy has been since being eliminated as a standalone department in fiscal year 2021.

For instance, grant funding for the arts, which flows through the Cultural Fund and the Illuminate the Arts Grant, reached $5 million in FY22. That total has been halved to $2.5 million in the proposed FY23 budget — yet another revenue source that lies in the MDO.

Want some more? Explore other Broke in Philly stories.

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?