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Tonight, City Council will hold its first public hearing on Mayor Kenney’s budget and it’s likely that the most controversial part, the so-called Soda Tax, will garner the most attention.

Mayor Kenney has proposed a far-reaching precedent-setting tax on sugary drinks to raise $400 million for several very worthy programs, including universal pre-K, community schools, retro-fitting City-owned buildings to make them more energy efficient, and paying down the pension debt.

It will also go toward capitalizing a new $300 million bond fund, called Rebuild Philadelphia, to pay for the repair and upgrade of dozens of City recreation centers, libraries, and parks. Rebuild Philadelphia will infuse make badly needed new capital dollars to Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR) for its capital projects.

This means that Rebuild Philadelphia will make more funding available for trail development, which is good news for Circuit Trails. PPR and other development corporation agency partners, such as Schuylkill River Development Corporation, Manayunk Development Corporation, Delaware River City Corporation and Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, all work on developing trails such as the Schuylkill River Trail, the Central and North Delaware River trail, the East Coast Greenway, the Tacony Creek Trail, the Cresheim Trail, and others.

There are roughly 25 miles of the Circuit left to be built in Philadelphia. The Rebuild Philadelphia bond fund could accelerate the development of those trails and make it possible to close the gaps sooner rather than later. City Council needs to hear that there is support for the tax and Rebuild Philadelphia. The other side is making their view known loud and clear.

There are several options for you to express your support for the tax and the Rebuild Bond Fund:

  1. Sign this petition to express support for the tax and Rebuild Philadelphia Bond Fund
  2. Attend the City Council public hearing on May 4th or May 11th at 5pm (subject to change – check with the Clerk’s Office to confirm the dates)
  3. If you want to testify, call the Chief Clerk’s office at 215-686-3410 or 215-686-3411.

Sarah Clark Stuart

Author

Sarah’s foray into trail and bicycle advocacy began in 2004 when she became involved in the “Free Schuylkill River Park” campaign to preserve public access to the Schuylkill River Trail in Center City, now known as Schuylkill Banks. Since joining the Bicycle Coalition in 2006, she has been a key player in the Bicycle Coalition’s key accomplishments: the $23 million TIGER trail-building grant; naming and building out the Circuit; lobbying successfully for legislation mandating the inclusion of bike parking in new construction projects; Philadelphia’s Complete Streets policy; and coordinating research and analysis of several reports on bicycling in Philadelphia.

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