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Council members back city budget; committee delays vote

Budgets and BudgetingStephanie Rawlings-BlakeBernard C. YoungBelinda Conaway

City Council members voted Monday to approve the $1.3 billion budget proposed by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, but a key committee postponed a decisive vote until Wednesday.

The spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would increase the operating budget by 1 percent while cutting $65 million in expenses to close a shortfall.

The council has the authority to cut the proposal, but may not increase spending.

While the plan was approved by the full 15-member council meeting as the committee of the whole, it did not receive the necessary support from the five-member budget and appropriations committee, according to a spokesman for Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young.

Committee members Sharon Green Middleton and Warren Branch voted for the proposal, Belinda Conaway and Mary Pat Clarke abstained, and Nicholas D'Adamo was not present.

Young spokesman Lester Davis said the vote was tentatively rescheduled for Wednesday.

The council is scheduled to cast final votes on the budget Monday, in an elaborate ritual in which the members hold two meetings, with an intervening break in which the city's Board of Estimates also votes on the budget.

Community activists have said the plan would devote too many resources to the downtown area and law enforcement and not enough for youth jobs and recreation and parks. Despite their lobbying efforts, the budget has not significantly changed.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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