Board of Estimates OKs city budget for fiscal '04

$2.16 billion plan includes 3% growth, no tax rise

April 24, 2003|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

The city Board of Estimates unanimously approved yesterday a proposed $2.16 billion budget for fiscal 2004, a 3.2 percent increase over the current year's spending plan.

The proposed budget represents a slight adjustment from the preliminary budget presented last month and must now move to the City Council for a series of hearings next month. The council will vote on the budget in June.

The budget is then sent back to Mayor Martin O'Malley for final approval.

The proposed budget does not increase real or personal property tax rates. The rate on real property will remain $2.328 per $100 of assessed value; personal property will stay at $5.82 per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed budget would abolish 335 positions, 84 of which are currently filled. The rest are vacant. It also anticipates a salary and wage freeze for fiscal 2004, an assumption that depends on pending agreements with the police and municipal worker unions. The firefighters and fire officers unions already accepted contracts with no pay raises.

Other highlights of the budget include:

A city contribution of $197.8 million to the Baltimore City public schools, $1.6 million more than what the city is required to pay.

$246.1 million for the Police Department, a 1.3 percent increase.

$108.6 million for the Fire Department, an increase of 2.5 percent. The recommendation includes $2 million in overtime pay deferred from the current fiscal year, an item demanded by the two unions.

$19.2 million for the Department of Recreation and Parks, a 2.6 percent increase.

$17.4 million for the state's attorney's office, a 1 percent increase.

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