On Monday the Baltimore City Council voted to approve a $1.3 billion spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Passed by a vote of 14-1 (Councilman Carl Stokes voting against the plan) closes a $65 million deficit without increasing property taxes. The Baltimore Sun reports:
“Baltimore, like most cities, is still feeling the effects of the Great Recession,” (Mayor) Rawlings-Blake said after the vote. “Through sacrifice and smart budgeting, city government is tightening its belt to get more value for taxpayers by doing what families are doing everyday — making tough choices and doing more with less.”
The city maintained its full funding obligation to the school system next year, but will trim afterschool programs. Hours are to be cut at the city’s 311 call center, graffiti removal and tree maintenance will be scaled back, and funding for animal services was trimmed.
Three hundred more police officers are to be hired under next year’s budget. City workers will face from two to five days of furloughs, depending on how much they earn, but they will receive a 2 percent cost-of-living increase to offset lost wages.
Current workers and retirees will see cuts in prescription drug benefits, which the city says will save about $4.5 million.
“We recognize that we are asking our [residents and employees] to once again hang in there with us,” said City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young. But he said budget cuts were not as painful as last year’s.
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