Resolution Wants Slot Funds for School Construction
Councilman Bill Henry wants all land lease funds from a city slots casino to go to school construction.
UPDATED (3:55 p.m.)—A councilman who represents North Baltimore wants all funds from the land lease of a proposed slot machine casino to go to school construction.
A Baltimore City Council resolution is scheduled to be introduced Monday calling on Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to dedicate all revenue from the land lease from a proposed video lottery terminal be dedicated to school construction and rehabilitation.
Councilman Bill Henry, who represents several North Baltimore neighborhoods, is the resolution’s sponsor.
Henry said he introduced the resolution in part to show education advocates other ways that funds could be raised for new construction without increasing the city's bottle tax. He said that he would supoprt splitting revenues between property tax relief and school construction but that the revenue estimates from the slots keep being reduced.
"I guess we'll need all of it [for school construction]," Henry said.
At the time former Mayor Sheila Dixon supported the state approving slots gaming because the funds could be used to reduce city property taxes.
Last week Rawlings-Blake officially introduced her plan to increase the city’s contribution to school construction and renovation by 140 percent. The mayor’s plan includes directing 10 percent—about $1.2 million—of estimated revenue from the lease to school construction.
The mayor’s plan also involves increasing the city’s bottle tax from 2 cents to 5 cents in an attempt to leverage about $300 million in bonds for school construction.
Henry does not support increasing the bottle tax and believes the city should try to increase its revenues through other means.
If the resolution passes it would not be binding because the council does not have the power to dictate how a mayor spends funds in the budget.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents parts of Charles Village and Remington, will introduce a resolution calling on the city to halt the tax sales of homes for unpaid water and sewer bills.
The resolution for the moratorium would last at least two years or until the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Works can show a viable billing system is in place.
The resolution comes on the heels of revelations about massive problems with the city’s billing procedures.