Baltimore officials today confirmed that the city will likely lose $70 million in revenues this fiscal year and $103 million in FY2021 because of the economic contraction caused by the coronavirus.
While unprecedented for modern-day Baltimore, the losses – from shortfalls in personal income taxes, hotel taxes, transfer taxes and parking and speed camera revenues – represent less than 3% of the city’s annual $3.87 billion budget.
Property tax revenues, the city’s revenue mainstay other than state and federal aid, will remain remarkably stable at $1.02 billion. Nevertheless, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the new budget “literally had to be rewritten in a month from scratch.”
“Last thing I want to do”
To save money, the administration will defund 240 currently vacant jobs. Young said he is negotiating furloughs or pay reductions with unions representing city workers and wants to avoid layoffs.
“Some [governments] are laying off right now, and we have not done that,” Young said. “It could really put families in homelessness, and that’s the last thing I want to do.”
Finance Director Henry Raymond said the defunded positions represent a wide range of jobs, including office clerks, secretaries, accountants and budget analysts. He said public safety and some other essential jobs were excluded.
Raymond said the cuts will not affect city services in the short term. But over time, he said, they could cause an “administrative impact.”
No More Graffiti Removal
The city plans to reorganize the traffic, mounted patrol and aviation units of the police department to reduce costs.
The mayor also is counting on savings in police overtime by privatizing some building security functions and better deploying officers for court appearances, special events and administrative tasks.
Other changes include reassigning personnel from two fire companies and eliminating the graffiti removal program, with personnel being reassigned “to more critical work such as solid waste collection and street and alley cleaning.”
In a letter to the Board of Estimates, which approved the budget today, Budget Director Robert Cenname wrote that he fully expects the budget to undergo “significant revisions” in the future. The document will now go before the City Council for public hearings.
Read the executive budget summary here.