Baltimore City budget officials briefed the City Council earlier this week reporting a slight budget surplus for the current fiscal year. This surplus is attributed to business growth and a stronger than expected housing market.
As reported by the Baltimore Sun,
Andrew Kleine, the city’s budget director, said revenue is about $12.4 million ahead of projections. Nearly $34 million in higher-than-expected property tax collections are helping the city overcome losses because of high police overtime costs and lagging revenue from the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.
Property taxes also have helped the city absorb snow removal costs that ran to an estimated $7.8 million — twice the $3.5 million that was budgeted.
Kleine said the surplus means the city can avoid painful cuts. Conservative budget practices also have helped boost the bottom line, he said.
Despite increased revenues, council members encouraged budget officials to identify savings.
The council’s budget committee, led by City Councilwoman Helen Holton, grilled budget officials for nearly two hours over the spending plan. Holton said she wanted agencies to provide information about the number of vacant positions they have on the books. Reducing those numbers could help lower spending, she said.