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Rawlings-Blake Makes Targeted Spending Cuts In Baltimore

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The mayor’s new budget calls for dozens of new speed cameras and it includes painful cuts to city services.

Mike Hellgren breaks down the numbers and who’s getting a pay raise.

They’ll be a modest one for most city workers, but that will be offset by furloughs.  Fire and police were largely spared.

Baltimore City will add 26 new speed cameras.  The existing ones have made $10 million in cash.  But the mayor is proposing some painful cuts in her new budget to make up for a $65 million shortfall.  Among them, the BARCS Animal Shelter could see more than 10 percent of its funding vanish.

“Those are homeless animals that would otherwise be out on the street or in vacant homes,” said BARCS Executive Director Jennifer Brause.

The 311 call center will see reduced hours, as will the city’s libraries.

“We want to make sure that our every day patrons won’t feel the impact as much,” said Roswell Encina, Enoch Pratt Free Library.

There would still be rotating firehouse closures that the union says are dangerous.  But the mayor plans to fill 300 police officer positions and has kept the public safety budget mostly intact. 

“I’m not going to let police positions remain vacant and not fill them to save money,” said Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

These budget proposals are just preliminary at this point. 

Funding for cleaning up abandoned buildings would stay, and new cameras would go up to cut down on illegal dumping—but you’d have to pay for bulk trash pick-up.

“We’ve taken huge steps already, but we know we’ve got to take more,” said budget director Andrew Klein.

The good news for city employees is that most will get a two percent raise, but there will still be unpaid furlough days.

Almost half the city’s rec centers could be placed under the control of nonprofits.

“My concern is what if the nonprofits run out of cash.  Does that mean that the rec centers will close?” said City Council President Jack Young.

Property taxes will not increase, but there will be changes and cuts to the prescription drug program for retirees and current city employees.

The mayor says the city is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars because of pension reforms made last year.  Firefighters and police unions are currently fighting them in the court system.

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