BALTIMORE, Md. - For the first time in a long time, the Baltimore City budget plan invests more in education and youth development than policing.
On Wednesday, Mayor Catherine Pugh released the preliminary fiscal 2018 budget plan.
The budget includes $2.8 billion for operating expenses and $1.1 billion for capital investment. It also includes more than $350 million of support to City Schools.
Currently, Baltimore City Schools faces a budget gap of $130 million. Earlier this week, Governor Larry Hogan pledged nearly $24 million in assistance and the City is expected to contribute more than $22 million in bridge funding and $90 million in total over the next three years.
“This is a milestone, historic moment. Our funding education and youth development exceeds the police department budget,” said Andrew Kleine, the budget director for the City of Baltimore.
Of the $3.9 billion budget plan, $512 million will fund City Schools and youth programs, which tops the $497 million set aside for police.
“Commitment to youth, absolutely a commitment to youth, transparency, and holding department heads accountable for their budgets,” said Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The City plan also includes a $5.5 million dollar base reduction to the police budget in addition to getting overtime spending under control.
“We've got nine days of Light City, which I'm really excited about but that's nine days of overtime by our police officers. When you think about Artscape and all these other events that's overtime for our police officers that takes someone out of a patrol into these particular areas and I think we have to look at that and couch it differently,” said Mayor Pugh.
Mayor Pugh did not specify what programs or services would be cut from the police budget. Most other city services will be funded at current levels.
The City was also able to close a $20 million dollar shortfall through increased property and income tax revenue and a new funding source. The City plans to relaunch the red light and speed camera program, which is estimated to generate nearly $8 million in revenue. The program is expected to be rolled out no earlier than June.
“Certainly we'll be grateful for the revenue but one of the things we look at, as Kleine has cautioned me on this, because as people get used to the cameras they will slow down, they will stop running red lights so it becomes also regressive. So, it's not something that we want to depend on, we really want to grow our city to increase our revenue,” Mayor Pugh said.
Another key factor in how the City balances its book is federal funding, and President Trump wants to make some cuts.
“This budget plan includes $230 million in federal funding, $180 million in operating, $50 million in capital. The president's so-called “skinny budget” would have a very significant impact on the City,” Kleine said.
The plan also calls for mobile workforce centers that will travel to different communities and assist people with job searches and education.
Other initiatives include extending library hours, installing 6,000 new LED streetlights, and adding more big belly trash cans to improve cleanliness.