Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young plans to unveil a plan Monday that he says will prevent fire companies and recreation centers from closing, double funding for youth summer jobs and after-school programs and lessen the cost of planned cuts to health benefits for employees and retirees.
“My 'Plan for a Better Baltimore' builds on the mayor’s goal to grow Baltimore by 10,000 families over the next decade by investing in services that save lives and will help to attract and retain residents,” Young said in a statement. “Paying for these services through thoughtful reductions in city spending will help to improve the quality of life for countless citizens.”
Young says he can generate about $17 million by trimming nearly $4.8 million from city agencies, eliminating more than 50 vacant positions, tapping into a health care rainy day fund and other tweaks. He also believes that speed cameras will net about $3.5 million more than the current budget forecasts.
Young hopes to increase rec center funding by as much as $2.8 million, fund an additional $1.6 million in summer jobs for young people and boost funds for after-school programs by $4.6 million. He would also reverse planned cuts to the Experience Corps program, which brings retirees to help out in city school classrooms.
Young and the other council members have until the end of the month to pass a balanced city budget. They have heard weeks of testimony regarding the budget proposal MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration rolled out in March.
That budget patches a $48 million shortfall in the city’s $3 billion operating budget through a number of trims and by increasing health care costs for employees and retirees.
Rawlings-Blake proposed permanently closing three of the city’s 55 fire companies, eliminating a system of cost-cutting rolling company closures that has been in place for three years. Firefighter unions strongly oppose the closures and say they could slow response times to fires.
The mayor has also warned that as many as 14 of the city’s more than 50 rec centers could be shuttered in August if private operators cannot be found to run them. Rawlings-Blake plans to boost funding and programs at 30 of the centers, while turning the other centers to third-party groups or the school system.
In 2009, Rawlings-Blake, than council president, and Young, then the budget committee chair, teamed up to propose similar changes to Mayor Sheila Dixon's budget.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun