BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Concerns about public safety will take center stage when Baltimore City’s mayor unveils her proposed budget Wednesday. The cuts are expected to be deep and painful.
Mike Hellgren reports the mayor is slicing her own salary.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake laid out the first of big new cuts to Baltimore’s next budget. This year, she’ll slice a massive $65 million from the bottom line. That’s on top of the $121 million cut last year.
“Cities put off tough challenges and failed to prepare for this day of reckoning,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The mayor says she wants to set an example. She’ll slash more than $360,000 from her office and has already gotten rid of a third of the cars, eliminated funding for nine positions and declined pay raises. But she has yet to detail cuts to the police and fire departments that are likely to draw outrage.
“We’ve suffered long enough and it’s time to give us our due,” said firefighters’ union head Bob Sledgeski.
Sledgeski is still fighting to stop rotating firehouse closures he calls dangerous.
“It’s time for citizens to be able to go to bed at night without worrying what number the firehouse roulette wheel lands on,” he said.
It’s unclear what else is on the table right now and rumors have been flying. The Fraternal Order of Police told members that a five percent pay cut was just gossip.
“There’s rumblings out there of furloughs next year and things like that,” Sledgeski said.
With Baltimore City’s tax rate the highest in Maryland, WJZ wanted to know—are you getting what you pay for?
“We carry a lot of the burden and we don’t get any services down in Canton at all,” said Mike Lang.
“How is the economy going to grow if you keep cutting?” said Bill Brown, city resident.
“We really don’t have an option right now; budgets are tight. There’s just not a lot of money coming in from the state or federal government,” said Kelly Lindow, city resident.
The mayor is also working on a 10-year financial plan to address Baltimore’s structural deficit.