The nation's fifth largest city, scrounging for cash to keep itself solvent until springtime, hopes to learn this week whether a desperately needed $150 million bailout loan will be approved.
Published reports Saturday said the loan, already scaled back several times, may have to be whittled further amid concerns some local banks might not participate.The latest delay in finding emergency cash for Philadelphia came Friday, when the city's police and fire pension board postponed a vote on its participation in the short-term loan deal. The city hopes the vote is rescheduled for sometime this week.
"There is just more up in the air than I thought there would be at this time," said Ian Lenoff, a pension board consultant evaluating the legality of the deal. "I just wasn't ready to make a recommendation."
The pension board had been expected to approve the deal Friday, clearing the way for a similar vote by the state teachers' retirement board Saturday.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, quoting sources familiar with the negotiations, said it is now uncertain whether some members of a consortium of local banks will participate.
If the banks scale back their $75 million portion, the pension boards will have to cut their share due to legal requirements.
The city has been limping financially since August, when a $350 million loan deal on Wall Street fell through. The city has been unable to find financing from normal investment markets because its bond rating was reduced to junk bond status.
The loan is needed to tide the city over until large real estate and business tax payments come due in March.
Mayor Wilson Goode had said the city would run out of cash Dec. 1 if a loan deal was not reached, but the city has been scraping by since then by postponing payment of some bills and dipping into reserve accounts.
Goode said Friday the city has met its last two payrolls by dipping into a $53 million fund earmarked for Delaware River port improvements.