Stokes is asking the right questions
Editors Baltimore Times | 10/11/2013, 6 a.m.
Complaints about tax bills are nothing new. However, the ongoing revelations of billing errors by the City of Baltimore, is unacceptable. It is estimated that Baltimore has lost more than $11 million dollars over the last decade due to calculating mistakes.
At best, this is problematic for a city in dire need of revenue to meet its obligations and at worst, for administrations to have known about these issues and to have allowed them to persist borders on incompetence.
To her credit, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake acknowledged her own frustrations with the ongoing challenges this week. She stood with the leadership team of her finance department and laid out reforms that she believes will go a long way in
addressing the billing glitches. Among her resolutions, a new automated calculation system that will reduce the possibility of human error. However, she resisted calls for an audit of the agency. That’s too bad!
Councilman Carl Stokes, a champion of city agency audits since his return to the Council three years ago, has introduced resolutions that call for an “immediate and thorough” audit of the finance department and to investigate the possibility of privatizing the calculating and billing systems at City Hall. He is on the right track.
It is important, given the huge estimation of lost revenue, to get a bottom line. Only an audit can reveal exactly what is wrong with the process and how it can be fixed. Everyone, including beleaguered taxpayers, deserves answers and the administration needs a clear starting point.
The mayor is asking for patience and to allow the agency to institute the new reforms. Unfortunately, time is a luxury Baltimore can no longer afford.