Mayor Young Unveils Revised Fiscal Year Budget Proposal
Monday May 11th, 2020
BALTIMORE, MD. — Today, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young presented the City’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal to the Board of Estimates.
The budget, which had been carefully constructed over the past year, had to be completely rewritten in a matter of weeks, beginning in early April, after the City’s finances took a sharp downturn due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. In March, Mayor Young instituted a hiring freeze for any non-essential workers, and mandated a freeze on spending. Those decisions will remain into fiscal 2021, as the City works to slow spending in the face of losses in revenue.
The Mayor’s budget protects core City services and functions, while investing heavily in five key priority areas. The proposed total budget recommendation for Fiscal 2021 of $3.8 billion, includes $3 billion of operating expenses and $832 million of capital investments. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City revised its budget estimate by trimming $103.1 million to account for revenue losses that are expected to continue through the summer, and possibly into the fall.
“This was an incredibly difficult budget process,” Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said. “Every City and county in the country are facing difficult budgetary decisions, and Baltimore is no different. What sets us apart, however, is the fact that even in the face of financial pressures, our commitment to our children and families is rock solid. The budget I presented makes very clear that Baltimore values its children, older adults, and most vulnerable residents. Even with the economic downturn, I believe that this is a smart and realistic budget.”
Mayor Young’s budget maintains City core services that residents and visitors rely on daily, like police patrol, emergency response services, trash collection and recycling, and direct health services. This budget includes no new taxes or increased fees. And the City’s property tax rate remains flat.
Children and Families: The Mayor’s budget includes record investments in public education. The Mayor’s budget includes funding to pay for historic school construction as part of the State’s Build to Learn School Construction Program. In addition to the more than $400 million invested in direct payment to the Baltimore City Public School System, the Mayor’s budget also includes nearly $100 million of additional spending on youth-related programs, like laptops for students to do distance learning, YouthWorks summer jobs, and other initiatives.
Public Safety: The Mayor’s budget includes $1.4 million to pay for two new Baltimore Community Intelligence Centers. The centers are modeled after a successful crime-fighting strategy that showed successful results in Chicago. The Mayor’s budget also invests heavily in patrol and community-oriented policing.
A Clean and Healthy City: The Mayor’s budget includes investments in the City’s capital infrastructure, like the water, wastewater, and storm water funds. The budget includes a total of $608 million of new capital investments, like improvements to treatment facilities, pumping stations, stream restorations, and drainage upgrades.
Equitable Neighborhood Development: The Mayor’s budget invests $42.1 million to grow the Housing Department’s community development framework, which includes services like demolition, homeownership incentives, and affordable housing. The Mayor recognized that cultural institutions and attractions represent an important part of a City’s vibrancy and health. To that end, Mayor Young’s budget maintains funding for arts institutions and cultural attractions that have been hit hard by closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Innovative Government: In the face of a challenging budgetary outlook, Mayor Young decided it critically important to also invest in innovative solutions to the tough challenges that cities like Baltimore face. The Mayor’s budget includes $10 million for a variety of IT infrastructure projects that includes an upgraded data warehouse, new cable and wiring, and investments in new cyber-security tools. Also, the Department of Finance, with the Department of General Services, and Real Estate Office, are undertaking the first phase of the City’s Real Estate Maximization Strategy. This process will involve the City moving from valuable real estate that’s currently non-taxable, in order to create new, taxable uses. The City is also undergoing a project to replace outdated, manual human resource functions for maintaining employee work hours in place of an automated system that will help reduce duplication, fraud, and save valuable time and resources.
While the City’s economic outlook remains uncertain, Mayor Young’s proposed budget creates a realistic path forward for Baltimore. For more information on the Mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget, please click here.