Mayor to propose new taxes on billboards, taxi rides

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to introduce legislation Monday that would give the city authority to levy two new taxes.

One bill would authorize a tax of about 25 cents per taxi trip. Another would impose a tax on billboard advertisements within the city limits — $15 per square foot for billboards that electronically change images, and $5 per square foot for those that don't.

A third measure would keep the tax on parking at its current rate of 20 percent, instead of decreasing it to 19 percent, as had been planned.

The bills are among six pieces of legislation needed to make the mayor's $2.4 billion budget plan a reality. The budget includes property tax cuts and raises for city workers, while closing a $30 million shortfall.

Rawlings-Blake has said her budget represents the initial steps of a 10-year financial plan for the city that's necessary to fix a $750 million structural deficit. The plan calls for a 22 percent cut in property taxes — a reduction of 50 cents per $100 of assessed value — over the next decade. Rawlings-Blake said she crafted the proposal with an eye toward making the city a more attractive place to live.

If approved by the City Council, the billboard tax is expected to generate $1 million next fiscal year, while the tax on cab rides is expected to generate $1.3 million.

The legislation to keep the parking tax at its current rate would raise $1.3 million over previous projections, city officials said.

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