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Clock Still Ticking On Mayor Nutter's Plan To Sell PGW

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Mum's the word from the president of Philadelphia City Council as to whether today's regular Council meeting will bring any word on when lawmakers will debate the plan to sell the Philadelphia Gas Works.

Today's meeting brings another opportunity for the formal introduction of the mayor's PGW sale legislation.

Council president Darrell Clarke says a bill won't be introduced today, but he is not ruling out a resolution that would simply call for hearings:

"To my knowledge, there will not be an ordinance introduced."

(Reporter) "Will there be a resolution?"

"I'm not going to answer that at this time," Clarke says.

Clarke has previously stated that formal introduction of the legislation would trigger a 60-day deadline for the city and the buyer to submit a filing on the sale to the state Public Utility Commission.  The Nutter administration disputes that.

Sources indicate that a resolution rather than an ordinance would allow hearings on the sale to go forward without starting that clock.  Clarke had originally promised an update on how council will answer this by mid-October, but that obviously didn't happen:

"We're always allowed a little slippage in government.  People tend to say that government is a little slow, but government has the responsibility of making good decisions, because we're dealing with the taxpayers' money."

The mayor wants to sell PGW to UIL Holdings, a Connecticut firm, for nearly two billion dollars, with about one quarter of the proceeds used to shore up the struggling city workers' pension fund.

Opponents have said putting the utility in private hands could subject residents to more frequent rate hikes and endanger relief programs.

Council has not yet released the findings of its own consultant, Concentric, which studied both the deal itself and the larger question of the best use for PGW.

Council has five more meetings scheduled this year after today's session.  UIL could choose to opt out of the deal at that point if the lawmakers have not acted.

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