The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Baltimore:
Another mayor blames September 11 for what he was doing anyway

Nov 19, 2001

Baltimore City’s mayor was one of the first to testify before Congress that extra problems due to the September 11 attacks, especially police overtime, are breaking the city’s budget. He asked for federal funds to aid Baltimore.

The mayor and city budget officials expect a shortage of about 17 million dollars this year, which goes from July 1 through June 30. They have already demanded department heads plan four% cuts, except in the police department. A hiring freeze is in place and layoffs, beyond the jobs already cut, could begin in January. City unions have already agreed to no salary increases this year.

If the city budget is in deficit it’s because of loans and tax breaks. The mayor and city council already have given real estate and financial interests loans at one% or two%? No problem. Tax breaks for 10 years or 20 years? No problem.

Baltimore uses the PILOT system: so-called “payments in lieu of taxes.” By giving back some taxes to developers of downtown luxury apartment projects, the city guarantees the developers a return of between 14 and 20%!

What do city residents get out of it? Well, if they have an income over $96,000 they could buy one of the new apartments. But for the vast majority who make a whole lot less than that, city residents get ... a rise in city taxes this January 1.

September 11 did not create this problem. The readiness of city officials and politicians to serve the wealthy did.