City unveils plan to cut office management costs


Baltimore City Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean outlined a plan yesterday to restructure the way the city manages its buildings, a change that could save $12 million a year, she claims.

Under the plan, a three-person committee would be formed to oversee the management of 350 city-owned buildings that are currently run by various city agencies.

Also, the city's real estate office would assume control of monitoring hundreds of leases with private groups ranging from day care centers to marina operators that are now handled by individual agencies.

Ms. McLean and city real estate officer Arthur E. Held said at a news conference at City Hall that the $12 million savings was based on estimates that the city could save 50 cents per square foot per year in the management of the approximately 24 million square feet of city-owned buildings. Currently, the city spends an estimated $6 per square foot to operate its buildings, or about $144 million per year, they said.

They said the estimated savings were based on comparisons with figures from private property management firms and on a detailed analysis of two city office buildings they declined to name, which they said showed excessive costs in such areas as elevator maintenance and labor. But they could not provide a detailed breakdown on where those savings would occur, saying each building is different.

Additional savings could be realized from closer scrutiny of the terms of leases with private groups.

City Finance Director William R. Brown, who was briefed on the plan yesterday along with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, said the reorganization was similar to that suggested by an organization review team looking at city government last year.

Mr. Brown said he had not yet been able to determine whether Ms. McLean's figures on potential savings were valid.

But he said, "Whatever savings there are couldn't be done immediately. They would have to be achieved over time."

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