Baltimore City Council Supports Tax Increases to Balance Budget

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore City Council voted to approve $20 million in tax increases at its meeting last Monday evening.

Council members said the rate hikes — which include increases to income, parking and telecommunication taxes— would generate enough revenue to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of police and firefighters, the permanent closures of fire companies and the loss of the police helicopter, cuts that were detailed in a doomsday budget to close the city’s $121 million shortfall without raising taxes.

Rawlings-Blake proposed a $50 million package of new or increased taxes to mitigate many trims to cherished programs — including rec centers, senior activities and bulk trash pickups. But council members, whose approval is required to raise taxes, chafed at some of the proposals — notably a four-cent tax on bottled beverages. They have drafted several new taxes and fees in an effort to avoid the bottle tax.

At a hearing on Thursday, council members are slated to unveil an energy tax on industrial buildings, such as factories and warehouses, that is estimated to bring in $8 million, and could eliminate the need for a bottle tax, said Young.

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