Baltimore City Continues Struggle to Balance Budget

The Baltimore City Council has taken action on $43 million in new or higher taxes, but two issues remain – an increase in the bottle tax and changes to the City’s pension plan.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun

The council cast key votes Monday evening in favor of a tax package designed to mitigate a $121 million projected shortfall and avoid extensive layoffs of police officers and firefighters.

But with the next budget year about to start in about two weeks, a major issue is unresolved: the fate of the mayor’s plan to impose a 4-cent tax on bottled beverages.

While nearly half of the 15-member council remains staunchly opposed to the tax, five members have pledged their support and a handful of others — enough to tip the balance — say they would back the tariff if its proceeds would be directed to initiatives they deem crucial, such as curtailing a daily rotation of fire company closings or reducing layoffs and furloughs of city workers.

Council members and administration officials are working behind the scenes to try to hammer out a deal on the $11 million bottle tax before a special emergency meeting Thursday.

As reported by WJZ Channel 13

Another financial hit comes from the fire and police pension fund that’s owed $64 million.

The council is moving forward with a bill that increases the contribution rate, changes the cost of living raises and increases the years required to retire.

The fire and police unions have filed a federal lawsuit against the city to force the payment of $64 million before July 1.

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