Where are the tough questions from the City Council?

May 13, 2010

I read an article in the Baltimore Sun this morning about the nonbudget questions asked by City Council members concerning the Police Department that will be discussed in budget talks, and it irked me ("City police irked by nonbudget questions," May 13).

I would like you to pass my concerns to the mayor and City Council.

Many of the questions involved racial issues, so I would like to know how many Hispanics and women are employed in the Police Department and at what salary levels? Shouldn't Baltimore have a diversified work force to reflect the city's population?

Instead of asking "how overtime is disseminated," I would like to know how many officers received overtime, the dollar amount, and a list of officers receiving over $100,000 in salary and overtime. We need to put a halt to it, and I would include the Fire Department in these same discussions.

My suggestions to reduce the budget are: The City should put a stop to paying overtime to all city employees, except during emergencies like the snow storms. All city employees making over $80,000 per year should get a 5 percent across-the-board reduction in pay. The city should consider contracting out services such as trash pickup to the private sector. The private sector is more cost effective, as it weeds out nonproductive employees and does not pay bloated pensions and health benefits. Savings could go to reducing property taxes.

Raising taxes is not the way to go in these tough economic times because it impacts people who are economically suffering. I haven't seen tough budget reducing choices yet. Reducing city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy's $26 million budget by $1 million is not going affect services — maybe Ms. Jessamy should reduce her $250,000 salary by 5 percent and lead by example for others to follow? Her threat of an "unconstitutional" budget should be challenged by the mayor. It sounds like a public relations ploy. No one should be immune from budget reductions.

Please pass along my views to the mayor and City Council as they ask the "tough" budget questions.

Baltimore City Overtaxed Taxpayer

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