Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake unveiled her FY 2016 budget before the Board of Estimates today. The budget, which is based on a projected 9% increase in property tax revenue, imposes no new taxes, no further reductions in property tax rates, and decreases the size of the City workforce.
As reported by the Baltimore Sun,
“This budget reflects a continued recovery of the local economy,” said city budget director Andrew Kleine. “This is the largest revenue increase since the recession.”
The $2.5 billion operating and $662 million capital budgets are together about 4.4 percent smaller than last year’s package, because of a planned reduction in capital spending. The budget includes no major cuts to city services.
Even as revenue to city government is strong, the city workforce is shrinking. Rawlings-Blake’s budget funds 13,984 positions — down 274 from this year. The reductions are mainly in the police and fire departments, whose unions agreed to new work schedules in return for raises. Kleine said the jobs will be eliminated through attrition.
Some of the items funded include:
The budget funds 2 percent cost-of-living raises for city employees, and allocates $14.4 million for larger increases for the Police Department, whose union negotiated 5 percent and 6 percent raises over the next two years.
The budget also dedicates $38.7 million to school construction — part of a $1.1 billion plan to fix Baltimore’s crumbling school infrastructure.
The plan also allocates $2.6 million for improvements at the Baltimore Convention Center, and $6 million to operate the Charm City Circulator — a service whose future has been in doubt after city officials said last year it was running a long-term deficit.