Who would want to be the mayor of Baltimore right now? We’ve got 16,000 vacant properties and an ever-shrinking tax base, and we’re looking at “financial ruin” within 10 years if we don’t start closing our budget gaps.
That sounds simple enough — raise taxes or cut spending or do both. But our tax rates already tower above those of surrounding areas, so there isn’t much farther to go. And what kind of programs can we cut that won’t make the city a less desirable place to live and aggravate our shrinking population problem?
In her State of the City address, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake revealed a plan that includes a little of this, a little of that. She proposes cutting the property tax rate by 20 percent over the next 10 years. She also favors charging a fee for trash removal and tinkering with the benefits of city employees.
Now, maybe a marginal tax cut here and a new mandatory fee there is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. But, you know, if the ship’s sinking you might as well keep yourself busy doing something.
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