Mayor Scott's Statement on February 15 Board of Estimates Meeting Vote

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, February 22, 2023) - Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott issued the following statement regarding the the Board of Estimates' (BOE) vote on February 15, 2023.

"The Board of Estimates' vote to approve the City's agreement with BGE over the use of the City's conduit was valid and in compliance with the City Charter and established BOE rules and procedures. The vote occurred despite efforts by the City Council President and Comptroller to cancel the meeting without a majority vote of the BOE and without the notice required by the BOE rules. As explained below, the Council President and Comptroller's attempt to prevent the vote from happening would have violated the Charter and no less than six of the BOE's rules. I refused to let that happen because I am committed to moving the City's business forward in the best interests of the public.

The BOE rules are clear on the requirements for: 1) canceling a meeting; 2) deferring a contract beyond its effective date; 3) abstaining from a vote; 4) the required substitute for an absence of the City Council President; 5) the required substitute for an absence of the Comptroller; and 6) the number of meetings required to take place each month. The Council President and the Comptroller's actions at last week's BOE meeting were an attempt to violate each of these rules.

First, BOE Rule 27.01.01.04 F sets forth the required steps for cancellation of a BOE meeting. The rule states "The Council President may cancel any meeting with the concurrence of a majority of Board members." Moreover, the rule requires that any cancellation notice be provided 24 hours prior to a meeting and be posted on both the City Council and the Comptroller's websites. This never happened. Therefore, the meeting was not cancelled.

Second, BOE Rule 27.01.03.04 F requires that a deferral that would "prevent any meaningful implementation of the item for its intended purpose…must be approved by a majority vote." Here, the City's agreement with BGE needed to be approved prior to BGE's submission of its proposed rates to the Public Service Commission on February 17th, or else BGE would not have entered into the agreement. The Administration was clear with the Council President, the Comptroller, and the members of the City Council why this agreement needed to be approved on February 15, 2023. That is why the matter could not be deferred without a majority vote. This never happened. Therefore, the matter was not deferred.

Third, BOE Rule 27.01.01.04 A. requires the BOE to hold two meetings each month unless a recess is announced at a prior hearing. By attempting to cancel or postpone the February 15th meeting to March 2023, without announcing a recess at a prior meeting, the Council President and Comptroller would have caused the BOE to fail to meet a second time in February.

Finally, BOE rule 27.01.01.04 E-the quorum provisions-were written to prohibit exactly the type of action the Council President and the Comptroller attempted at last week's hearing. While the rules set a quorum at five members, the rules also make clear that if a member abstains, their abstention will count toward a quorum, and if a member recuses, they must arrange for a replacement. Indeed, BOE rule 27.01.01.05 B. requires that, in the absence of the Council President, the City Council Vice President "will act as President of the Board." And BOE rule 27.01.01.05 D. requires that, in the absence of the Comptroller, the Deputy Comptroller "will act as Secretary to the Board." The meeting was never cancelled, the Council President and Comptroller never arranged for their required replacements, and the statement read on their behalf at the beginning of the meeting made clear their refusal to enter the BOE room was solely because they refused to vote on the BGE agreement. Under all of these circumstances, their failure to appear and failure to arrange for their required substitute had to be treated as an abstention under the BOE rules.

These rules and procedures were established to ensure transparency and accountability in the decision-making process while preventing any one member of the Board from shutting down City business because they disagree with something. Indeed, the BOE rules could not be interpreted as allowing that outcome, because it would contradict the Charter provisions permitting the BOE to conduct substantive business through majority rule.

As we move forward together, I will continue to enforce the established laws, rules and procedures governing BOE meetings and work to guarantee that all members take their responsibilities seriously. By doing so, we maintain the integrity of the decision-making process and reaffirm that the City of Baltimore is governed in a manner that is fair, transparent, and in the best interests of all citizens."

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