On June 14, 2023, the Baltimor​​e City Council had the opportunity to do something not done in 125 years – reallocate funds in the annual city budget without mayoral approval. This was made possible because you – the voters – chose to restore financial control to the City Council by approving a charter amendment in 2020. Your decision to approve this amendment didn’t just give City Control the ability to determine how funding should be distributed, it was a major step in equitably distributing power when it comes to determining how city funds are spent.

Since late May, 14 members of your City Council and I have heard from all City of Baltimore agencies appearing before the Ways and Means Committee during the annual Budget Hearings. These hearings provide an opportunity for the public to hear how city agencies and, more importantly, city employees are at work for you. 

Throughout this process, we not only learned more about services provided and accomplishments made by the hardworking people who keep our great city running, but We also had the opportunity to discuss amongst ourselves ways we believe funds could be more efficiently spent – and that’s just what we did.

The budget process started when my team and I received the budget briefing from the Administration’s Department of Finance and City Administrator Faith Leach. After ongoing collaboration, the result was a solid, well-thought out and substantive approach to managing what is one of, if not the most important governing responsibility for our city’s leadership. 

From the final budget, our constituents saw that we have three priority areas for which we want to focus: Public Safety; Youth, Education & Jobs; and Protecting Our Workers. Our goal was to methodically go through and see how we could reallocate funding to cover expenses associated with giving the people of Baltimore what they need and what they deserve. I can say with confidence that this budget does that.

Public Safety

It’s no secret that public safety is a growing concern for communities across the nation. The challenges that we’re facing here in Baltimore are similar to what people are seeing in cities to our south, such as Washington, D.C., as well as cities to our north, such as Philadelphia. To assist with measures to enhance monitoring, we amended the budget to provide $2 million of additional funding to improve the CitiWatch camera system to support public safety initiatives and we allocated $100,000 in funds to support a rebate program for Baltimore residents who purchase home security camera systems, strengthening residents’ ability to monitor the activity taking place outside of their homes. 

Youth, Education & Jobs

As a father of two girls, I know how important it is for our young people to have access to resources that allow them to grow and learn in safe and efficient surroundings. I was extremely pleased to see the high level of preparation from Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises as she appeared before Council and, after careful consideration, Council is redistributing $1 million of funding for vocational learning to the Dante Barksdale Fund and $500,000 in additional funds to Baltimore City Recreation and Parks specifically for afterschool programing. These moves will go a long way to offer our youth much-needed resources and support to engage in activities that support their social and emotional development as well as prepare them for life after high school. When I was coming up, college was consistently presented as the only option, but we now know that college isn’t for everyone and there are ample opportunities for success through trades and entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Protecting Our Workers

Some of the toughest – and most underappreciated – in our city can be found in the Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Transportation (DOT). One of the primary reasons DPW has cited for delays in service has been staffing shortages. It’s definitely a challenge to attract and retain drivers for sanitation trucks when those trucks don’t have air conditioning or there aren’t adequate shower stalls where DPW workers can clean up after a long shift. Similarly, representatives from DOT have had to work in mobile spaces due to inadequate facilities. That’s why we will be redirecting $500,000 in funding to acquire temporary mobile trailer offices for the DOT facility on Pulaski Highway and an additional $250,000 in funding to upgrade DPW facilities for worker safety and comfort. The bottom-line is this: we respect and value our city workers and we need to show them such. 

This process is by no means easy or perfect. Ideally, I envision a system where the normal two-week “budget season” becomes a 52-week process where we’re focused on the budget year-round. This would actually make this huge task a much more efficiently managed process. 

When I was sworn in back in 2020, I was committed to making City Council a body that delivered for the people who elected us to lead. I think this process is a prime example of us having the opportunity to keep the interests of our constituents top of mind and doing what’s best for them.

Nick Mosby
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