Cumberland Times-News


February 10, 2013

In the red

Baltimore facing $745M deficit over next decade

Baltimore is the proud home of the latest Super Bowl champions, but it recently got news that nobody should take as a source of pride.

Projections received from an outside firm indicate that unless things change, the city will accumulate $745 million in deficits over the next 10 years. When infrastructure needs and retiree health care benefits are factored in, that number grows to $2 billion.

Baltimore’s problems aren’t unique. Stockton, Calif., may be the poster boy for the phenomenon.

Stockton recently filed for bankruptcy and has chosen to protect public employee benefits and pensions rather than pay off some of the creditors who were foolish enough to lend it money in the first place.

Stockton now has more public pensioners than public employees, and some have multi-million dollar pensions. It also has spent far more than it should on public works projects.

Maryland’s government in general seeks to address budget shortfalls by raising taxes and fees and cutting outlays to counties and municipalities, while at the same time passing on to them some of the fiscal responsibilities it had shouldered — teacher pensions, among them.

Baltimore may not have that option. Its city property taxes are already the highest in the state, and its tax base has dropped along with a decline in its population from 950,000 in 1950 to about 619,000 today.

Such problems don’t happen overnight. They usually are inherited.

A few decades back, Cumberland’s Mayor and City Council passed an increase in water and sewer fees that outraged many citizens. The city fathers said previous mayors and councils had kept rates the same for many years in the interest of placating their constituents, but the financial shortfall could no longer be ignored.

When the District of Columbia reported a $700 million deficit in 1995, Congress created a financial control board that cut spending and assumed the district’s hiring and firing process. The district’s economy soon rebounded.

Baltimore is seeking ways to resolve its fiscal problems and return to solvency and prosperity. If it does, it will be a model for others to follow.

Text Only
  • C-minus grade C-minus grade

    If a survey conducted by and the Kaufman Foundation is an accurate portrayal, Maryland has a long way to go to become a business-friendly state.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big loophole Big loophole

    How ironic — and how sad — that the Potomac Highlands Airport Authority plans a closed executive session to discuss the open meetings law.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Preposterous Preposterous

    File this one under the We Thought We’d Heard Everything category: A man who attempted the armed robbery of a pizza shop is now suing the pizzeria and the employees who tackled him and wrestled his gun away during the holdup.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • No secrets No secrets

    The idea of fracturing for natural gas makes many people anxious about potential harmful effects. For that reason alone, it is incumbent on Maryland government to require full disclosure of chemicals used in the process.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Don’t do it. Don’t do it

    Temperatures have been moderate recently but are projected to rise to the upper 80s and low 90s later this week, so we want to remind you: Never leave children unattended in a vehicle.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • July 20, 1969 July 20, 1969

    When Apollo 11 landed on the moon 45 years ago today, it was until that time the mostwatched television programming in history.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stopgap

    Kicking the can down the road was one of the things American kids did to pass the time in the old days, particularly if they lived in rural areas where there was little traffic to contend with.

    July 16, 2014

  • Maryland on target to meet 2025 bay restoration goals

    July 16, 2014

  • Tough luck Tough luck

    The state has for a second time declined to help Allegany County get federal flood recovery funds in the wake of the June 12 storm.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heard it all Heard it all

    Pesky thing, this requirement that political candidates file campaign finance reports.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo