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Charles Village board approves budget


The Charles Village Community Benefits District board last night approved a $435,045 budget -- nearly half of which will be used to improve security in the central city neighborhood.

In a meeting at SS. Phillip and James Roman Catholic Church, the board unanimously adopted the spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Under the plan, the board will spend $216,000 on a contract with a security firm. Security officers will take to the streets by the end of next month, said Tracy Durkin, board administrator.

Board President Thomas J. Shafer said the community will get additional protection from the Johns Hopkins University, which, he said, has pledged a $50,000 cash contribution and $55,000 worth of services, including a new security post in Charles Village.

The community is paying for the services through an assessment on property taxes for residents and businesses. Charles Village agreed by a 2-1 ratio last year to become the first residential community in the city to pay more property taxes to improve public safety and sanitation.

The board approved the budget on the same day that Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced plans to shift 300 police officers from desk jobs to street patrols.

"That's great," Mr. Shafer said. "Our job is to see that Charles fTC Village gets its fair share. We need to be vigilant."

A committee drafted the plan to address the priorities expressed by residents during a meeting last week, board members said.

The community will hire three full-time sanitation workers, a secretary to assist Ms. Durkin, and a community organizer who will work with block captains and volunteers to help improve the neighborhood.

Among a dozen residents at the meeting, only Grenville B. Whitman opposed the budget. Mr. Whitman said residents had been misled during the campaign for the assessment because supporters had estimated that revenues would be more than $150,000 higher than the $435,045 projected last night.

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