Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young says he won’t override the City Council’s cuts to police spending.
“I respect the Council’s cuts, and I’m gonna let ’em stand,” he said at a brief Board of Estimates meeting last night after the Council cut $22.3 million, or about 4%, from the Baltimore Police Department’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget.
But the lame-duck mayor, who lost in the June 2 mayoral primary to Council President Brandon Scott, expressed no interest in heeding the Council’s request for increased investment in addiction treatment, housing and other community services.
Nor will the saved funds go to a minor reduction in Baltimore’s property tax rate.
Robert Cenname, the city budget director, said the cuts could theoretically reduce the tax rate by 2 cents, from $2.248 per $100 of assessed value to $2.227, but he recommended against any change.
“We would rather have that little bit of cushion going into fiscal ’21 given the current economic situation,” Cenname said.
Start of a Process
Scott said the police cuts were the start of a process of reorganizing the city budget to depend less on the BPD.
The presumptive next mayor, given the overwhelming number of Democrats registered to vote in the November general election, said the city can divest from the police while adhering to the requirements of the consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice.
“We must diversify our investments into city agencies,” Scott said. “This is not the end. This is just the beginning of how we’re going to do that.”