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City spending panel asked to approve contract for position to oversee 'minor privilege' permit review

The project manager who oversaw the development of Baltimore’s food truck policy is expected to lead a review of charging fees for items set outside homes and businesses, under a contact the city’s spending panel is asked to approve Wednesday.

The Board of Estimates will decide whether to approve a $73,300 one-year contract for Babila Lima, who is the mayor’s cousin, to work under the director of the Department of General Services. The city’s ethics policy doesn't recognize the relationship between an elected official and their cousin in its nepotism rules.

“Babila is really an excellent employee, one of the smartest policy analysts in the city and he gets things done,” Steve Sharkey, director of the Department of General Services, said. “Babila does a good job, and he’s really going to be critical.”

Lima was paid $65,400 under his last contract. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who controls the spending panel, abstained from the vote to approve Lima’s contract last year. Ethics rules only speak to certain familial relationships, such as a child, spouse or parent.

Under the new contract, Lima is expected to continue his work implementing the food truck program, streamlining the process for hosting special events and chairing a review of so-called minor privilege permits, Sharkey said.

The minor privilege permits, which are required for items that protrude from a building or are placed on a sidewalk, and include such items as awnings, banners and Christmas trees. The Minor Privilege work group also is expected to propose a new fee schedule to go before the Board of Estimates, although a time line to do so has not been set.

Rawlings-Blake this month issued her first veto since becoming mayor in 2010 to strike down a bill that was aimed at reducing or eliminating many of the minor privilege fees. The legislation sought to ask voters whether to give the City Council or the mayor control over the permit decisions.




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