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The Dripby Mark Reutter1:29 pmFeb 19, 20130

Mayor to hold RSVP-only “kick-off” of her fiscal reforms

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will speak Wednesday to business, community and elected officials at the Walters Art Gallery to kick off the next phase of her campaign to fix Baltimore’s long-term finances.

The mayor will appear at the Graham Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow for an hour-long event for so-called “city stakeholders,” described as community groups, business and institutional leaders, elected officers and others. The invited guests were asked to RSVP back to the mayor’s office.

(UPDATE: Mayoral spokesman Ian Brennan says tomorrow’s presentation is not “invite-only.” Members of the public who read about the event on the on-line “Rawlings-Blake Review,” posted last Friday (2/15), were asked to RSVP by the end of that day in order to attend.)

Expected in the mix will be the presidents of the two city firefighters unions whose members are facing 52-hour workweeks under the mayor’s plan.

Two weeks ago, Rawlings-Blake unveiled a consultant’s dire forecast of the city’s future finances and then fleshed out her reforms during a State of the City address to the City Council last week.

Invitation to the mayor's speech tomorrow.

Invite to the fiscal presentation.

So far, the full $460,000 report by Philadelphia-based PFM Group has not been released.

Based on the group’s prediction of a cumulative shortfall of $745 million through FY 2022 because of flat tax revenues and soaring costs, the mayor is calling for major changes in employee health care and pension benefits and a yearly trash collection fee for residents.

The mayor says these and other reforms will permit a reduction in the property tax rate over time, more infrastructure investment and lower unfunded municipal liabilities.

Last week, the Board of Estimates approved $100,000 for the creation of a new post in the Department of Finance to oversee the fiscal plan and to work with PFM, which will continue to advise the mayor.

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