Philadelphia, April 3, 2013– Mayor Michael A. Nutter named Thomas Knudsen as the City’s first Chief Revenue Collections Officer with the goal of dramatically increasing the collection of all forms of revenue owed to the City. At the same time, the Mayor announced that Revenue Commissioner Keith J. Richardson has accepted a key position with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, that his replacement will be Streets Department Commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson and that veteran public servant, David J. Perri, the Streets Department Deputy Commissioner for Transportation, will assume her position as acting Streets Commissioner.
The creation of a Chief Revenue Collections Officer position is the latest development in a multi-year effort by the Nutter Administration to increase tax and other revenue collection while improving the efficiency of City agencies. Leading the way has been a closer working relationship between the Revenue Department and the Law Department, resulting in dramatically improved tax collection efforts. Using a variety of proactive strategies, the Revenue Department increased delinquent tax collections by $33 million from FY11 to FY12.
The position of Chief Revenue Collections Officer was a key recommendation in a detailed study of City revenue collections processes and overhead costs undertaken on behalf of the City by FTI Consulting, a global consulting firm. The new collections officer will work with city departments involved with billing but whose main purpose is basic service, such as the Police, Fire and Streets Departments. Mr. Knudsen, whose salary will be $160,000, will identify negative trends in collections and develop corrective actions; he will share best practices among City departments and develop new methods to encourage departments to increase collections.
“Tom Knudsen has demonstrated in a number of assignments – from turning around PGW to acting as chief recovery officer at the Philadelphia School District – that he understands finance and the management of large complex organizations,” Mayor Nutter said. “His skill set is perfectly suited to the recommendation from our consultant, FTI, that we establish a chief revenue collections officer with the goal of focusing on revenue collections. Ultimately, our goal is to collect every dime that is owed the City of Philadelphia.”
Mayor Nutter also announced that Mr. Richardson, after more than five years as the City’s Revenue Commissioner, has accepted a position as managing director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corp., a non-profit arm of PHA that develops public housing units.
“I greatly appreciate Keith Richardson’s service to the City of Philadelphia. I know him to be a professional, a person serious about the performance of his duties. As Revenue Commissioner, he oversaw a highly successful Tax Amnesty program; he has increased tax collections, and he developed a delinquent tax collection strategy that is the blueprint for taking the Revenue Department to new levels of tax collection.
“Keith now has a new opportunity to serve Philadelphia as the managing director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority Development Corp., where he will play a key role in developing new housing units and mixed use sustainable communities. I wish him the best in his new role,” Mayor Nutter said.
Clarena I.W. Tolson, the new Revenue Commissioner, is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and a 30-year veteran of public service in city government. The first woman to hold the position of Streets Commissioner, Ms. Tolson is the second longest serving Streets Department commissioner with 10 years of service.
During her tenure as Streets Commissioner, the department has innovated on a number of fronts, including the development of a growing single-stream recycling program, the UnLitter Us program, the Big Belly solar compactors and the conversion of 55,000 traffic signals to LED signals.
“I am very proud of Clarena Tolson’s service to the City of Philadelphia. Her intense focus on public service, her creativity and innovation, her stick-to-it style will serve her and the City of Philadelphia well as she leads the transformation of the Revenue Department into a high performance collections and enforcement agency that will work in collaboration with other departments and the Chief Revenue Collections officer,” Mayor Nutter said. Ms. Tolson’s salary is set at $150,000.
Replacing Ms. Tolson as acting Streets Commissioner will be David J. Perri, the current Deputy Streets Commissioner. In his new position as Acting Streets Commissioner, Mr. Perri’s salary will be set at $130,000.
“Dave Perri is the consummate professional who over the course of a 31-year career in city government has held numerous key positions. Most recently, he’s served as Deputy Commissioner for Transportation in the Streets Department, overseeing road and bridge construction, traffic control and street and alley lighting,” said Mayor Nutter. “He’s also served as L&I Deputy Commissioner and Acting L&I Commissioner. Now, as our Acting Streets Commissioner, Dave will provide a seamless transition in a department that is a vital part of city service.”