Mayor Catherine Pugh Budget Would Ground Police Helicopters, Cut Funding To Youth Centers

In March, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh unveiled her first budget proposal. The $2.8 plan included the return of speed cameras, a modest tax cut for homeowners, refinancing of the Hilton Hotel owned by the city and millions in increased funding for police and schools.

However, agency-level details that have recently been released reveal other significant plans. The proposed budget would save $1 million, but ground four of the police department’s Foxtrot helicopters. Six aviation unit positions, including one police sergeant, two flight officers and three police officers would be abolished.

The proposal would save $70,000 by cutting services at two of the city’s youth curfew centers. In 2015, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had planned to expand the curfew centers during the summer to give youth a safe place at night. According to city officials, Pugh is altering the curfew centers’ mission to an “outreach initiative” to make employment, recreation, social and educational opportunities more accessible to youth.

The centers formally opened on Friday for the summer.

“We’re going to fund the centers, whether that’s privately or publicly,” Pugh said. “We think that this is very important.”

The budget proposal includes 17 new positions, three community liaisons, three policy analysts, five compliance managers and six auditors, which would assist the Department of Justice in monitoring the Baltimore’s Police Department. The budget proposes $3.4 million to be split between an independent monitor ($1.45 million) and police ($220,000) for traveling to other cities to gain knowledge on police reform.

Additionally, the budget would allocate $430,000 for new positions to administer police body cameras. It also proposes three new positions to deal with Maryland Public Information Act associated with the body cameras.

Funding to the Comptroller Joan Pratt’s office would be increased by $646,000 for the hiring of three new auditors. At the request of Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Pugh authorized $100,000 in funding for a new fiscal analyst.

CEO of the organization, Visit Baltimore, would receive over $332,000, increased funding for several of the city government’s highest taxpayer-funded salaries and six vice presidents would receive $1 million under the proposed budget.

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