11:00 AM EDT, June 22, 2013
The recent Sun editorial regarding Baltimore's budget sounded like it was written at City Hall — the story of the heartfelt push by city government to reform itself into a positive middle class-builder ("Building a middle class," June 19). It's really just more of the Maryland governmental spin cycle: Tax, spend, and repeat!
In Baltimore, we listen to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's shell game of lowering the property tax rate, while riding high on the city's maximum income tax rate, increasing the city's budget, creating new taxes, and raising existing taxes and fees on everything but the air we breathe. This is all coming from a bloated bureaucracy that spends 20 percent of its budget on people who are no longer there! The mayor's solution to pension reform is to require employee contributions and offset it with raises. There is no acknowledgment that the present day value of public compensation is almost double that of the private sector.
The Sun's editorial concluded that it might cost Baltimore citizens a little more to live in the city next year, even after the $140 average property tax decrease was figured in. That has to be the understatement of the year.
While it would take a year's time and an inordinate amount of diligence to determine the exact effect of the across-the-board salvo on the average citizen, it's safe to say that this is a government money grab of monumental proportion. It's another mechanism to move money from lower income brackets to the higher bracket, composed of government employees, health care and financial services. With the new rain tax, water/sewer increases, speed and red light cameras, fee increases on everything from parking meters, bottles, plastic bags, taxis, to billboards — on top of the across-the-board state fee increases like gas taxes, highway tolls and college tuition — Baltimore residents will experience a governmental drain on their pocketbooks in the thousands of dollars. And the nice thing about it from the government's perspective is that while people can easily see a change in property tax or income tax rates, it's almost impossible for them to get their arms around the increases in this deluge of disparate factors.
The only class building going on in this city is the building of the class where there is enough income, that the cost of living is not a factor. Unfortunately, that is not the middle class.
Gary Moyer, Baltimore
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