In the wake of disgraced ex-mayor Catherine Pugh’s resignation, the Baltimore City Council introduced so many charter amendments intended to restructure power in City Hall that City Council President Brandon Scott created a new committee to manage them.
Many of those proposed amendments made it to the November general election ballots. City voters can find a complete ballot preview here.
Voters tend to overwhelmingly approve ballot questions; in 2016, city voters passed all 10 of Baltimore’s charter amendments and bond issues.
The first four Baltimore ballot questions ask voters if they’d like to authorize four different bonds to fund $160 million worth of city projects.
Question A asks voters to authorize spending about $12 million to create an Affordable Housing Program. Question B asks to spend about $38 million to build or reconstruct city schools facilities. Question C asks for another $38 million for economic development programs throughout the city. Question D asks voters to agree to spend about $72 million to develop public infrastructure, such as libraries, parks, bridges, courthouses and police stations.
More information about the general obligation bonds can be found here.
This question asks voters to approve an amendment to the city charter that would require that a Charter Revision Commission be appointed at least once every 10 years to review and make recommendations for necessary deletions, additions or revisions to the City Charter.
Baltimore City Charter dictates much of City Hall’s legislative process and city policy. GThe provisions range from spelling out how many people can serve on the City Council to the licensing requirements for street performers For example, it spells out how many people may be elected to City Council and the licensing requirements for street performers.
Changes to the City Charter may only be made by voters, so if this measurement passes, the Charter Revision Commission’s recommendations would still need to be approved by city voters.
This question asks voters whether they’d like to allow the City Council to add or shift money around the mayor’s proposed budget. As it is now, members can only vote to cut funds from the budget. For example, the council reduced the Baltimore City Police Department’s budget by $22.4 million earlier this year but were unable to reallocate that money to other city agencies or projects; only the mayor has that power under the City Charter.