Council president plans to use a budget analyst

Analyst helped shape alternative budget proposal last year

March 26, 2013|By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun

City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young plans to renew the contract of an independent budget analyst who last year helped to design an alternative proposal to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's budget.

Young will ask the city's Board of Estimates Wednesday to approve $21,000 for city retiree Larry Shapiro, who will advise Young and other council members on fiscal issues.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said Shapiro was instrumental in developing an alternative budget proposal, which sought to keep fire companies and recreation centers from closing last year.

"Larry was very helpful in helping to craft an alternative budget," Davis said. "It provides the council president and the council with an expert on these matters."

Young's alternative plan attempted to keep open all of the city's fire companies and recreation centers, despite a budget shortfall. Young also attempted to double funding for youth summer jobs and after-school programs through $7 million in cuts from city agencies and $10 million in revenue from other sources.

Council members initially voted for large portions of Young's plan, but eventually switched course under mayoral pressure. Rawlings-Blake said Young's plan was "unadvisable, unworkable and irresponsible."

This month, Rawlings-Blake proposed a $2.4 billion operating budget that includes a number of tradeoffs. In it, she proposed giving city workers a 2 percent cost-of-living raise and cutting property taxes. At the same time, the plan includes major cutbacks in pension and health care benefits for city employees to help close a $30 million projected budget shortfall.

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