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Rawlings-Blake to double staff of Billing Integrity Unit

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to beef up her Billing Integrity Unit, which she's tasked with cracking down on the chronic problem of erroneous tax bills in Baltimore.

Created in 2010, the unit is currently staffed by three people. But their ranks will increase to seven employees under the mayor's proposed $2.5 billion Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which the City Council will review at a series of hearings today.

The city plans to hire an appraiser, tax analyst, revenue analyst and data manager at a cost of $290,000 to better catch erroneous bills. City officials estimate they've missed out on $11 million in revenue over the past decade due to incorrect bills.

"The administration is kicking this up to the next level," said William Voorhees, the city's director of revenue and tax analysis.  

The increased staff is the latest effort to correct a nagging problem of erroneous bills, which frustrate many property and home owners in the city.

Earlier this month, the council authorized a $3 million payout to an estimated 300 owners of historic properties whose tax bills in coming years will be higher than what government officials told them to expect.

The city says the Billing Integrity Unit has 'recouped' $15.9 million since its inception, through catching errors and preventing future mistakes from occurring.

"The mayor made clear this was a top priority of hers," said Rawlings-Blake's spokesman, Kevin Harris. "We were going to continue to reform this process so we didn't have the tax errors we've had historically. Our work isn't done."

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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