Panel approves $2.08 billion city budget


The Board of Estimates approved a $2.08 billion budget for fiscal 1993 yesterday that doesn't raise taxes and requires city employees to go a second straight year without cost-of-living wage increases.

The spending plan, which is virtually unchanged from the budget unveiled by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke last month, now goes to an eager City Council for review.

"There are a number of issues that we want to look at," said Council President Mary Pat Clarke. "We want to take a look at the tax rate and see if there are ways to honor our commitment to chip the nickels away."

Currently, the city has a property tax rate of $5.90 per $100 of assessed valuation -- by far the highest in Maryland.

Mrs. Clarke also said that the council will explore ways to restore a number of school bus routes that the Department of Education wants to eliminate. She also said that she wants money put into the budget to ensure that two library branches -- Patterson Park and Govans -- can be reopened when renovations are completed in the coming months.

Overall, the budget would increase the number of police officers, significantly raise education spending and reduce Baltimore's work force -- all without a property tax increase or major layoffs. Also, Mr. Schmoke has said that the city would not raise its local income tax.

The only layoffs contemplated in the budget come as the result of Mr. Schmoke's plans to turn four city-run day care centers over to private operators. The 44 employees affected by the change will be allowed to keep their jobs under the private operators, Mayor Schmoke said -- but at sharply reduced salaries and without city benefits, according to the City Union of Baltimore, which protested the move yesterday.

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