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News Opinion Readers Respond

Baltimore should dump 'minor privilege' fees [Letter]

As a business and property owner, I have paid Baltimore's "minor privilege" fees for 29 years ("Minor privilege, major disincentive," Aug. 14). I pay nearly $1,200 a year, so they are not minor. These fees allow my business to have three windows, a sign and an awning. If I wanted to lower my expenses, I guess, I could get rid of the awning, but as a business how do I do without a sign and windows?

About 15 years ago, the city and business community asked me to put a security light on my property. I was more than willing to do this until I found out that I would pay a minor "privilege" fee for doing what they asked. It was like rubbing salt in a wound. Instead of the city forgoing the fees for the light, there have been several person-on-person crimes at the property, including a stabbing. So these fees are not only annoying but dangerous.

Imagine if these fees disappeared and businesses put up awnings, artwork, bicycle racks, flower pots, security lights, and generally improved the neighborhood. It would make our neighborhoods much more attractive and safer all at a cost of $2.7 million a year to the city. Considering all the money the city throws at trying to improve itself, this seems like a drop in the bucket and additionally, the businesses actually pay for the improvements!

The mayor's assurance that she is "reforming" the fees, is not at all reassuring. Forget reform and try eliminate.

Steven Pinson, Baltimore

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