Being mayor always seemed like fun to me — all those ribbon cuttings! those galas! — except for the whole balancing-the-budget thing. But maybe you’re one of those people who’s always felt that you’d do a great job of prioritizing the city’s competing needs. If so, you can test out your budgeting acumen with the new “Balanced Baltimore” website, which allows you to allocate millions of dollars… as long as you’re willing to make some tough choices.
Basically, you start out with a $20 million deficit and have to figure out how to make up the money. Do you want to cut libraries? Or services for the mentally ill? You could save $1 million if you cut down on repairing potholes — but the roads are already bad enough.
I shocked myself by cutting library funding (noooo!), deferring annual bridge inspections (yikes!), and reducing maintenance funding for 80 crime cameras (actually feel fine about that one), among others. And I still had a $10 million deficit!
The budget-balancing game is more than just a fun exercise; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is hopeful that it will encourage Baltimoreans to give their input about what programs are essential and what we could do without. “We want to hear directly from citizens on what services they believe should be reduced and where new investment should be made to keep our city moving forward,” SRB told the Baltimore Sun. “The most important aspect of outcome-based budgeting is working with residents to hear their priorities.”
Do your best to balance the city’s budget here. Let us know how you manage….