Baltimore will freeze nonessential hiring and spending as it grapples with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack" Young announced Friday.
The Democratic mayor asked the city finance department to make an exception for hiring police officers, paramedics, firefighters and other positions related to public safety.
Other agencies can request an exemption if a prospective employee would fill a “critical service” position, Young said in a news release, with priority given to people who would provide essential services or generate revenue.
The mayor said the the city must be “fiscally prudent as we navigate this unprecedented emergency.”
The finance department is forecasting sharp declines in the city’s revenue sources as daily life is upended. The state ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, malls and other major economic drivers in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. As a result, the city expects to lose out on hotel taxes, convention center receipts, parking revenues and other sources of money for an unknown period of time.
“The hiring and spending freeze represents a pair of necessary first steps to ensure that as revenues continue to decline, we remain in a position to quickly respond to the needs of our residents and first responders," Young said.
The mayor declared a local state of emergency Wednesday. That allows the city to expedite procurements related to the pandemic.