Reporting Monique Griego
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tough tradeoffs. That’s what Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says it will take to pull Baltimore City out of a dire financial situation.
Monique Griego has more on her 10-year plan just released Wednesday.
The plan’s main focus is to cut spending, but it also devotes millions of dollars toward fighting blight within the city.
Despite millions in cuts, Baltimore is heading toward a fiscal nightmare. The city’s deficit is projected to reach $2 billion in 10 years. To keep that from happening, the mayor released a new long-term financial plan.
“This plan includes a bold set of major reforms to fundamentally change the way the city does business,” the mayor said.
The 10-year plan decreases spending, while investing more money in city improvements. The majority of savings will come from reducing the city’s workforce by 10 percent in eight years through attrition and not filling vacancies.
The city’s fire department is also looking at a schedule change to reduce its staff by 25 percent or 300 members.
“We had two companies just close recently in July, truck 15 and squad 11, so I think Baltimore fire is taking a big hit,” said Michael Campbell, President Baltimore Fire Officers Assoc.
The mayor says the new schedule is similar to how other large cities run. It includes a pay raise and will reduce the constant threat of fire house closures. Still, some fear layoffs may be next.
Another part of the mayor’s plan is to devote millions of dollars to neighborhoods plagued by crime and abandoned buildings.
Park Heights in Northwest Baltimore is one of the neighborhoods in need of help–a community Oscar Cobbs has spent years working to rebuild.
“Trying to redo our community because it has so many vacants,” Cobbs said.
The mayor’s plan would give $100 million over 10 years to the vacants to value program. The money would pay to demolish 4,000 vacant properties citywide.
“I think it’s going to be good. I haven’t exhausted it yet but when I do, I’m hopeful,” he said.
The mayor’s plan also includes changes to the city’s employee pension plan and aims to reduce city property taxes by 20 percent over the next 10 years.
None of these changes are set in stone, just simply proposals for changes.