Group targets city's health care spending; Comparative study planned by foundation


A new group seeking to improve Baltimore's finances and efficiency is seeking $100,000 in grants to compare spending on health care costs with similar cities.

The Baltimore Efficiency and Economy Foundation Inc. (BEEF), a nonprofit arm of the Baltimore Homeowners Coalition lobbying group, wants $50,000 from the city for its first effort.

Yesterday, the city Board of Estimates delayed voting on the grant for two weeks, after Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke expressed concern that the study be a true comparison, taking into account items such as salaries, which might affect the level of benefits employees receive.

The coalition has expressed concern over city spending on health care. The annual prescription cost for city retirees and workers has risen to $56.3 million, almost double the $29.8 million of five years ago.

The group has applied to the Goldseker Foundation for the remaining $50,000.

In other action, the board:

Approved a $1.7 million loan to BUILD/Enterprise Nehemiah Development Inc. to provide housing in Sandtown-Winchester. The first phase of the project will involve the rehabilitation of 49 properties in the 1100 block of Calhoun St. The units will range in price from $42,000 to $62,000.

Approved a settlement with the International Culinary College Inc. In 1989, the city agreed to sell its property at 200 S. Central Ave. to the college in return for $2 million in improvements. The college failed to make improvements, and the city sued to take back the property last year. Under the new settlement, the college will have until 2004 to make the improvements.

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