BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City leaders are working to drive up the population of firefighters and police officers living in Baltimore neighborhoods.
If some council members have their way, a tax break could be used to motivate first responders to move into city limits.
Come back to Baltimore, and get a $2,500 tax break. It’s part of city leaders’ plan to get police and firefighters to live where they work.
City leaders want to put blue uniforms in Baltimore homes, and they want to use a green incentive to do it.
“If we have our first responders, our police department, actually living in the city, we can do a lot to change the culture of the City of Baltimore,” said Baltimore City Council President Jack Young.
Monday night, the city council will be talking about a tax break for first responders.
If the proposal passes, it would give a $2,500 discount to police and firefighters who own a home inside Baltimore City limits.
First responders like John Burke.
“They have the ability to stay in the place where they work,” Burke said.
He’s done just that during his 26-year career as a Baltimore firefighter, now calling Hamden home, and says in Camden, he’s helped his neighbors through emergencies.
“You feel like you’re able to take care of your family, as well as have them take care of you,” he said.
A visible presence is just one component of the sell to get public safety officers into Baltimore neighborhoods.
Some departments around the country require that police and firefighters live in the cities that they serve. But in Baltimore, when their shift ends, most first responders cross the county line and take their spending dollars with them.
Of Baltimore’s more than 5,000 police officers, deputies, and firefighters, less than 30 percent live in the city, and nine percent don’t even reside in the state.
Mayor Catherine Pugh says that needs to change, even if it takes some monetary motivation.
“We need your tax dollars. We need your spending dollars,” she said. “We need you to choose not just to work here, but to spend here, to live here, and to be a part of our communities.”
Council members introduced the legislation at 5 p.m. Monday.
For it to become law, it has to go to committee, and then get unanimous approval from council.
Mayor Pugh says city leaders are also looking into incentives for first responders who choose to rent.