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Employee Cuts, Pension Shifts Highlight Mayor's Address

In the State of the City Address, the mayor proposed changing the employee pension plan, increasing firefighters hours and creating a trash collection fee.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced her intentions to pursue fundamental changes in the way the city does business during her State of the City Address Monday.

Rawlings-Blake announced she will try to shift new city employees to a 401(k) style retirement plan, as opposed to the current pension system, shift city firefighters off the 42-hour work schedule and create a new solid waste enterprise by implementing a trash collection fee.

"We cannot build the foundation of a growing city on the mud of a fiscal swamp. The status quo is unsustainable, and the price of inaction is clear. We must change to grow," Rawlings-Blake said in her speech. 

She also pledged to reduce the number of city employees by 10 percent through attrition, reduce property taxes and vowed to work to support tougher gun laws.

The mayor also tried to frame her three years in office as challenging, but not without progress.

She touted the fact that violent crime has dropped, the retaining of the CSX Intermodal Facility and the demolition of 250 dilapidated residences through the Vacants to Values program, while handling a combined $300 million deficit, as proof of the success.

"Today we affirm that we have the power to create the future that we want for Baltimore’s families. We have the power to overcome the difficulties of economic and budget pressures," Rawlings-Blake said. "If we have the courage to use that power, our city’s lingering narrative of post-industrial decline will not be the story of our future."

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Baltimore Matt February 12, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Trash collection fees are a great way of getting rid of the rat problem...maybe I'll not pay the fee and just dump my garbage on her front yard...
Baltimore Matt February 12, 2013 at 02:13 AM
This is SBRs game...reduce property taxes but raise the other fees and then claim you lowered taxes, while everyone is paying more...I say we all go dump our trash in her front yard and see how she feel about it...
Baltimore Matt February 12, 2013 at 02:22 AM
...it's not about this tax or another that will spark jobs and growth in this city...its about lowering the cost of government and getting rid of programs to help this person or that person with their personal problems that will allow you to be competitive within the State of MD. You know drug addicts from the county abuse the city's rehab programs and you know that poor people come here to be on welfare. Get rid of these programs for people who are not working full time, put people in the street if they can't pay, ration food programs, and let them go back to the other county's in MD to beg for assistance. Plain and simple, if Baltimore is going to make a comeback you have to reduce the cost of city government for those with the ability to pay taxes and fees and remove those who are leaching off the system. It sounds a bit Darwinist but this is what it will take to bring this once great city back from the brink of it's own demise.
JD1 February 12, 2013 at 04:25 AM
That strategy has worked for our governor so what the heck...what's good for the state is good for the city. $50/year decrease in taxes and a $150/year increase in fees - who wouldn't want that deal?
Able Baker February 12, 2013 at 07:31 PM
The plan is supposed to be cost neutral for current residents. The difference is that it allow the city to collect fees from the nonprofits, who currently pay nothing.
Able Baker February 12, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Welfare is not funded by the City.
Sean Tully February 12, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Able, what is supposed to be cost neutral? The entire plan or the trash tax?
Sean Tully February 12, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Baltimore Matt, Baltimore is not going to make a come back, so let's start from that premise.
Sean Tully February 12, 2013 at 09:04 PM
The trash tax is idiotic. Let me get this straight. The City is going to tax us for picking up our trash now (which, the way I understand it, we already pay through taxes) with the hope of reducing our property tax down the road. Is that it? Why not just not tax us more now and reduce our property taxes a little less down the road? Our elected officials are not in touch with the reality of living in Baltimore City.
Sean Tully February 12, 2013 at 09:06 PM
It's a trash tax, plain and simple. But how will they collect? Will they charge our property taxes? If so, why not charge us now and reduce our property taxes a little less down the road. Maybe they will put the trash tax on our water bill? If they try to send us a seperate bill for trash tax, I will throw it in the trash.
Sean Tully February 12, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Able, are you suggesting Baltimore City doesn't provide public assistance? I think "welfare" is the generic term. I am not against public assitance, but I know for a fact there is plenty of waste and abuse of it.
Baltimore Matt February 13, 2013 at 01:40 AM
If nothing else, if this is a fee and not a tax, I should choose to not pay this fee and haul my own garbage to the dump or hire a service outside of the DPW to remove the trash (like rural counties with no municipal garbage removal service). These services can compete for customers by price and services (I may be able to have 2 trash days a week, if I'm willing to pay for it). However, if I'm forced to pay this fee to the city it is no longer a user fee but a tax. Also if this is a user fee and not a tax, tenants should be charged this fee directly. Tenants are the user of the trash services, not the landlords.
Sean Tully February 13, 2013 at 03:30 AM
The dumbest remark I heard was from Kraft, as reported by the Sun. Kraft said by imposing a trash tax we'll finally be able to get the nonprofits to pay their share. Um, why not just impose the trash tax on the nonprofits then?
Able Baker February 13, 2013 at 01:54 PM
The trash fee. I haven't seen specifics in how they'll calculate it, but property taxes are to be reduced by an equivalent amount.
Able Baker February 13, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Tell me what public assistance the City offers and in what amounts.
AnnKangarouse February 13, 2013 at 02:13 PM
There's a collection of trash down at City Hall, which needs to be removed ASAP. One can only hope to live to see the day this happens...
Rodney C Burris February 13, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Hello All, I've posted this before, and I'll share it again here. --Baltimore faces an "Income to Expenses" issue. Simply put, we spend more than we bring in. So what do we do? Two things: Trim down on how we expend (ie; in simple, family/household terms, we cut back from steaks to chicken (we're still eating), from premium to regular (car still has gas); from brand new to thrift store (still have clothing). --- In City terms, we need to identify where these places are to trim, and do so. We may be able to retain all of our services & departments, but in a more efficient sense. -- A third party firm(s) with proven track records should be employed to do this. (...continued in next post...)
Rodney C Burris February 13, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Hello All, I've posted this before, and I'll share it again here. --Baltimore faces an "Income to Expenses" issue. Simply put, we spend more than we bring in. So what do we do? Two things: Trim down on how we expend (ie; in simple, family/household terms, we cut back from steaks to chicken (we're still eating), from premium to regular (car still has gas); from brand new to thrift store (still have clothing). --- In City terms, we need to identify where these places are to trim, and do so. We may be able to retain all of our services & departments, but in a more efficient sense. -- A third party firm(s) with proven track records should be employed to do this. (...continued in next post...)
Rodney C Burris February 13, 2013 at 03:55 PM
(..continued..) Secondly, we need to increase income. --Again, in household terms, we pickup a second job, or get a better one, or even sell avon/legalshield/amway/other to make ends meet ---In City terms, our income = Taxpayers. --Simply put, we need more of them. Easiest Way to Gain Taxpayers (ie, grow the population): COLLEGE STUDENTS. There are approximately 200K college students in Baltimore Metro Area that cycle through ea/year. We dont have to attract them, they are already here! Every year we get thousands more. ...and we allow thousands more to leave, evaporate... If we retained 10-20% of these folks, each year, in the City itself, we would see a drastic increase in our population/taxpayer base in just 3-5 years. NEED THREE THNGS: 1) Housing (ton of it around, in the city) 2) Jobs (tech & construction industries) 3) Nightlife (more of it) If we focused on these three, and agressively/proactively marketed to this group to STAY, we could feasibly address our issues as a municipality. -RCB www.RodneyBurris.com
Sean Tully February 13, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Able, let us stipulate that no one knows the details as of yet. So, since this story is off the front page it will be impossible to follow any debate (Patch - your forum stinks!). I will certainly be writing a blog on the Trash Tax (oh, sorry, fee) as soon as more is known.
Sean Tully February 13, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Able, I detect a circular argument coming up with you over what "welfare" is and who actually pays for it. Will you at least agree that Baltimore aid to the poor and other needy people is paid for, at least in major part, by taxes, whether they be federal, state, or local? Can we agree on that?
Able Baker February 14, 2013 at 03:51 PM
If you're making the claim that City services and City tax dollars are being consumed by people specifically moving to the City to consume those services, you should be able to articulate what they are. Federal taxes are irrelevant to the argument.
Sean Tully February 14, 2013 at 09:33 PM
Able, I am not making any claim other than our taxes (local, state, and, yes, despite your misgiving, federal) pay for social programs that often fall under the heading of "welfare".

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