Taxpayers weigh in on Mayor's preliminary budget

Posted at 11:22 PM, Apr 12, 2016

City budget officials said it was one the highest attended annual taxpayer night's in the last five years. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed a $2.64-billion budget for fiscal year 2017, and 33 people took to the mic to argue certain programs deserve some of that green.

"After the most tumultuous year in recent memory we're here tonight to voice our strong opposition to the Mayor's proposed budget," Frank Patinella with the Baltimore Education Coalition said.

The room at the War Memorial Tuesday night was packed full of people who felt the same way.          

"As far as I’m concerned you need to go back to the drawing board," said one woman.

Almost 75 percent of folks who came out showed support for child-care, after-school programs and community schools. The current budget on the table cuts more than $4 million for those programs.  It's money the Mayor said was a one-time investment.

"These same kids we are trying to save are our future doctors, future lawyers, future Mayors, they're our future, we have to invest in them,” said Baltimore parent Thaen Hardy.

"It's hard for a single parent to try and do everything by them self, and the afterschool program really helps me out with doing things with my kids," West Baltimore parent Tyesha Harrell said.

"My son is in an after school program and he loves it, so does a lot of other kids,” another parent said.  “Without that, they be in the streets doing nothing or doing something violent."           

"These centers, in addition to other after school programs for our youth, are really essential and critical to ensuring all children in Baltimore City Schools have safe places to be, structured places to be, and engaged in activities that will help them become productive adults when they get older," said Baltimore parent Melanie Watkins.

Other speakers urged the Board of Estimates to fund the University of Maryland Extension, Parks and Recreation, and local libraries.

The budget will be finalized and passed onto City Council in May.  Council will hold its own hearings, and a budget has to be passed by June 25th.

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