City Unveils Plan to Close $60 Million Budget Gap in 2017

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake proposed a $2.6 billion operating budget to the city’s Board of Estimates on Wednesday morning. The proposed spending plan calls for the city to use spending cuts and targeted tax increases and to address a $60 million budget gap for the upcoming fiscal year.

According to an article from the Baltimore Business Journal,

The mayor’s budget proposal includes plans to boost revenue by increasing parking taxes at garages and by raising emergency medical services fees. It calls for holding or cutting costs by freezing police salaries, not filling police vacancies and closing one of the city’s five community action centers. The budget also provides for a 1-cent decrease in residential property tax rates previously promised by Rawlings-Blake and her administration.

Baltimore’s general fund, the important pot of money that finances most city expenditures, would come in at $1.8 billion under the mayor’s proposal. That’s up 2.4 percent from the current fiscal year, which started in July.

The mayor’s office had to close a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall in the months leading up to Wednesday’s proposal. Initial projections showed the city with a gap as large as $75 million but were later revised to reflect new property tax assessments, higher income tax distributions and an increase in highway user revenue from the state.

General fund revenue was expected to rise $36 million, or 2.1 percent, next year amid employment and wage growth. Meanwhile, projected expenditures were set to increase $96 million, or 5.6 percent.

The mayor’s plan also increases funding for the city’s public schools by $10.4 million, which would be in addition to the $12.7 million allocated in Governor Hogan’s budget to help make up for a decline in state education aid.

The budget proposal will be reviewed by the City Council, which must approve the spending package by June 30.



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