Casino Revenue Shortfall and Police Overtime Create Baltimore City Budget Deficit

Although property tax revenues are up, a provision in Baltimore City’s charter which limits how surplus funds can be spent, has created a deficit in the City’s budget. As reported by the Baltimore Business Journal,

The city’s budget office expects $32.4 million more in property tax revenue than originally predicted for the current fiscal 2015 year. But the city charter says a surplus from property tax revenue cannot be used to close deficits. Now officials will have to find another way to make up the projected $14.8 million deficit that’s being created in part by police overtime spending and disappointing returns from the Horseshoe Casino.

Based on the casino’s revenue projections from a year ago, the City was anticipating $14.6 million in ground lease payments.

But now, city budget director Andrew Kleine said the city is only counting on collecting the $8 million minimum it agreed to in annual ground lease payments determined through a percentage of revenue generated at the South Baltimore casino. Of that, $7.2 million will go toward property tax relief.

The City is also exploring ways to minimize the amount paid in police overtime.

One way the city could help close the deficit includes a new Baltimore Police scheduling system expected to cut overtime costs, Klein said. Additionally, indicators point to better-than-expected income tax revenues by year’s end, he said.