Baltimore City Agencies Instructed to Tighten Belts to Close Shortfall

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has instructed all city agencies to propose spending cuts to help close a $75 million budget shortfall for fiscal 2017.

As reported by the Baltimore Sun,

The expected shortfall in the city’s more than $2 billion budget for the year that begins July 1 is largely driven by new or higher expenses in several areas, finance officials said. The city faces higher costs for providing prescription drugs and pension benefits for workers, and must pay for new initiatives such as police body cameras, new trash cans for residents and expanded Charm City Circulator routes.

Meanwhile, the city is bracing for slower income growth and a downturn in tourism after April’s rioting. “We’re overdue for the business cycle to turn down again,” said city budget director Andrew Kleine.

Agencies have been asked to submit budgets 5% smaller than the current fiscal year.

The fiscal shortfall is the largest since Rawlings-Blake embarked on a 10-year plan to improve Baltimore’s finances. Last year’s shortfall, by comparison, was $30 million. The city addressed it and ended the fiscal year with a $12 million surplus, thanks largely to better-than-expected property tax revenue.

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