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Rawlings-Blake Works To Overhaul City’s Budget

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Stephanie Rawlings Blake

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The mayor’s vision for improving Baltimore goes to the test at City Hall. Monday is the first step in a complete overhaul of the city’s budget.

Adam May reports the proposals will impact residents and visitors.

The plan is a mix of spending cuts, property tax reductions and other tax increases.

For the first time in nearly six decades, Baltimore’s population actually grew, according to the latest Census results. Now Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake formally introduced her plan to accelerate growth while solving a $750 million budget deficit.

“At the end of the day, it’s important to have a balanced budget with diverse revenue and sustainable,” she said.

The first phase now goes before the City Council. It calls for new taxes on taxi services, billboards and parking.

Phase two–in coming weeks–proposes a dramatic change in city employee benefits and a long-term plan to cut property taxes by more than 20 percent over the next 10 years.

That excites homeowners.

“Excellent! Excellent; I could use all of that,” said one.

Realtor Patricia Polk thinks that will bring more buyers back to the city.

“Sometimes the taxes are high on people that want to buy and that’s discouraging,” Polk said.

The property tax deductions could save the average city homeowner hundreds of dollars a year.

This reformed budget also calls for more road repairs and better community recreation centers.

As for the tax increases, New York City already has a similar, more expensive taxi tax but the billboard tax might be harder to sell to the City Council.

“There are a lot of council members with other ideas on how to raise revenue. As I always say, I’m willing to listen,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The first pieces of legislation are being introduced Monday night in the council. The mayor hopes they pass the plan quickly so it can be implemented by July.

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