Baltimore City’s Proposed Budget Trims Spending, Provides Employee COLA

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Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s proposed FY 2016 budget provides for a reduction in expenditures, but does not include the continuation of a plan to further reduce property taxes in the City. As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

Her final $2.55 billion budget trims spending by charging smokers more for health insurance, ending coverage of Viagra for retirees, and capping the amount of leave city workers can cash out at retirement, administration officials said Tuesday. The spending plan for the year that begins July 1 will be presented to the Board of Estimates on Wednesday.

The mayor’s spending plan gives many city workers a 2 percent pay raise, as called for in union contracts. It includes no major cuts to city services and dedicates 14 percent of city spending to schools.

The budget will eventually save taxpayers $700,000 a year by denying coverage of erectile dysfunction drugs for retirees, and save more cash by requiring tobacco users covered by city health plans to pay 50 percent more for their insurance.

In a statement,  the Mayor indicated that she was ahead on her plan to reduce property taxes and further explained why she did not include the additional two-cent reduction in her budget plan.

“Those who remember the budget crises of just a few years ago know that Baltimore was not always as fortunate to be in the position we find ourselves today,” she said. “We are investing in key priorities like public safety, education, and blight elimination without burdening residents with new taxes. My goal is to continue pressing forward with my 20 cents by 2020 plan until all of the tax relief promised to city residents is realized.”