Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore will lose hundreds of millions of dollars if changes aren’t made to how the city raises and spends money. New analysis paints a dire picture of the city’s bottom line.
Mike Hellgren reports on the rough financial outlook.
Despite Baltimore City having the highest property and income taxes in Maryland and going through millions of dollars in recent, painful cuts and reforms to employee pensions and benefits—even trash service—a new report shows the city is bleeding money, a shortfall that could be as high as $2 billion over 10 years. It has many who call Baltimore home concerned about the future.
“You can’t spend more than you have,” said Nannette Mitchell.
Among the problems: a falling population, a rough economy and aging infrastructure. Several water main breaks have cost millions to repair.
The mayor says it’s critical to look at the long-term money picture now. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she would not start laying out solutions to the problem until next week at the State of the City address and she rejected reports that the city is bankrupt and in financial ruin.
“The financial forecast tells us we need to do more and we plan to do more,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Some employee unions, including one representing firefighters, say they’re already stretched thin.
“The city is cut bare bones. We’re barely hanging on with what we have,” said Rick Hoffman.
It does not appear the city plans to raise property taxes and although the future budget looks dire, city leaders say they can turn it around.
“It’s like a family saying now we better start saving for college. The kids are in kindergarten. Know what I mean?” said Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke. “If we act decisively and boldly, we can change the trajectory for the city.”
The city has cut almost $300 million to balance the budget over the past three years.