Mayor pushes long term growth and budget plan in" State of the City"
6:23 PM, Feb 11, 2013
6:46 AM, Feb 12, 2013
BALTIMORE - The state of the city is about where it's going to be in the next ten years.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says the city is facing a 750 million dollar structural deficit if it does not change the way it does business.
And the hole gets deeper when you pile on what she projects as a one billion dollar infrastructure deficit and a whopping three billion dollars in pension costs.
"Baltimore's pension system for civilian workers is the only large system in Maryland that doesn't require any employee contribution that must change. At the same time we can use the savings to increase salaries." Rawlings-Blake says.
The mayor wants a ten year, long term financial plan.
That would look at reducing the city's costs on personnel, pensions and benefits and at the same time creating lower property taxes and stimulating growth.
She wants to change a firefighter's work week from 42 to 52 hours.
Reduce the city's work force by 10 percent
Require new hires to shift to a 401k style retirement system
In essence she wants to cut costs.
"We are prepared to propose a bold set of major reforms, to eliminate the structural deficit and protect basic services from devastating cuts to make modern investments in civic infrastructure while reducing neighborhood blight and to further cut the property tax burden on homeowners. Each of these will help retain and attract residents and jobs." Rawlngs-Blake says.
Reaction is mixed.
Leaders of two of the city's largest unions, police and fire are both in negotiations with the city right now.
"We believe in sustaining a strong pension plan for our members because it all comes back recruitment and potential and we look forward with sitting down with the mayor and see what's in the details." Fraternal Order of Police President Bob Cherry says.
"I certainly agree we probably can't operate the whole city, we can't operate the way we have for the last 30 to 40 years but do I think on the backs of the firefighters absolutely not to propose a 52 hour shift, that's crazy." Firefighters Union President Rick Hoffman says.
Also on the mayor's list;
- Continuing to work with the state to improve school buildings.
- Continuing to lower the city's crime rate with using technology and increased enforcement.
- Working to help small businesses grow in the city and continuing progress in the Vacants to Value program to help improve neighborhoods and encourage people to move to the city.