Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake intends to increase the city’s bottle tax from 2 cents to 5 cents as part of a plan to help pay for new school construction, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Ian Brennan, a spokesman for the mayor, would not confirm the details of the article, but wrote in an email the mayor would be making a “major announcement” on Monday about a plan that will increase the city’s contribution to the school’s capital budget for school construction by 140 percent.
“The only question is which council members will support the mayor’s plan for school construction to help our children,” Brennan wrote in an email.
Councilman Bill Henry, who opposed the initial told Patch on Thursday the only way he can see the mayor getting a bill increasing the bottle tax through the council this session is by amending legislation already submitted by Councilwoman Belinda Conaway that was meant to bring the bottle
Henry said he questioned whether or not such an amendment to the bill would violate a council rule that stipulates an amendment may not change the purpose of a bill.
“It’s an interesting suggestion to take an otherwise unpalatable tax increase that businesses complain puts them at a business disadvantage and to make it palatable link the proceeds to—I won’t say bulletproof—but to a need that is pretty solidly agreed on by everyone,” Henry said.
Councilman Carl Stokes said the council and the administration need to sit down and find a way to fund school construction without doing it in a piecemeal fashion.
“We can support school construction without taxing more the average citizen of the city. The bottle tax is a regressive tax,” Stokes said.
But Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke told Patch that she supports a bottle tax as part of a way to pay for the $2.8 billion in school construction and improvements needed in Baltimore City.
"As long as it's dedicated to school facility renovations and construction issues," Clarke said. She said she understands that businesses feel the tax places the city at a disadvantage to county businesses, but feels this is a sacrifice that has to be made.
"I don't in anyway dismiss the seriousness of the issues [brought up by businesses]. On the other hand this is not a forever situation because we have a goal to complete the work of Transform Baltimore within five years," Clarke said.