Baltimore City Council votes unanimously to give preliminary OK to youth fund legislation

The Baltimore City Council unanimously voted Monday in favor of legislation that would bring the city one step closer to distributing money from a $12 million fund for children and teens.

A council final vote on the bill is expected Thursday, followed by a vote of the city’s spending panel, the Board of Estimates.

“Thursday is going to be big day,” said Lester Davis, spokesman for City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, the lead sponsor of the bill. “The council president is excited we’re inching closer to his dream becoming a reality where young people are put first in terms of budgeting in the city of Baltimore. We’re marching forward steadily to the start line.”

The fund was created when city voters overwhelmingly approved the new approach to funding youth programs last year.

By law, the city’s contribution to the youth fund is determined by the value of assessable property. The latest estimate of the city’s assessable base is $40.4 billion, which means $12.1 million in taxpayer money was funneled to the youth fund in the budget year that began July 1. The size of the fund is likely to increase in future years as property values increase.

For the first year of the fund, Young has proposed, based on a task force’s recommendations, that Associated Black Charities take the lead in distributing the grants and then set up a new organization to do so going forward.

Young’s legislation requires the new organization have “a focus on youth leadership and governance.”

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