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Regarding Carl Stokes and his never-ending movement of money from government coffers:
Stokes has done a good job shouting out about some the the right issues but as Chair of the Finance Committee he is the face of all the fraud and corruption, the Baltimore Development control of city coffers, and the race to the bottom with downtown development.
WHAT'S A CITY COUNCIL TO DO WHEN BALTIMORE'S 1% WRITES A CITY CHARTER GIVING ALL THE POWER TO THE CITY EXECUTIVE, THE MAYOR?
You lead a citywide referendum ending all of the power given to the mayor------that's what! If your pols are telling you over and over that the mayor controls the show and they are not organizing charter referendums sending the power back to the city council people----
THEY ARE WORKING FOR THE SAME PEOPLE AS THE MAYOR....IN BALTIMORE'S CASE THAT IS JOHNS HOPKINS AND THEIR NGO BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION.
What is Stokes doing in his quest for really big cuts to property taxes at the same time giving corporate tax breaks from any kind of tax....property and all? Now, public schools in Baltimore are supported by property taxes and Baltimore City schools are crumbling and have the worst of classroom conditions for teachers and students because not enough money and resources make it to schools. O'Malley and Rawlings-Blake with the help of City Hall have starved government coffers of all revenue while shouting the city is close to bankruptcy and pretending to have to partner with Wall Street in a $1 billion dollar financial instrument that ties all our public schools to private investors at the time the economy is ready to collapse.
THERE IS NO WORSE PUBLIC POLICY IN THE WORLD THEN THERE IS IN BALTIMORE----
The reason is of course that the policy in the city is written by Johns Hopkins with the sole goal of maximizing their wealth and power. This is third world policy-making as the NGO, Baltimore Development Corporation, works in Baltimore as it would in Kabul, Afghanistan. This is why Baltimore is called a company town and Hopkins states that everyone in Baltimore will be working for them.
So, when Carl Stokes and City Hall continue to shout out about more tax reduction for developers and corporations at the same time they want to cut residential property taxes they are killing public schools. This ties directly with Mike Miller saying he will be pushing the end of state funding for public schools. See where this is going? Wall Street leveraging of school building.....ending funding for public schools all spell -------privatization of K-college in Maryland with Baltimore being the platform to expand.
I have not heard one person in the city that likes this idea. OK, I heard one, but that is all. Neither democrat nor republican wants our schools handed to Wall Street.
Stokes is using the same strategy that goes with defunding a public agency or service until it becomes dysfunctional and then sell the idea everything needs to be privatized.
EVERYONE WANTS LOWER PROPERTY TAXES SO USE IT AS AN EXCUSE TO STOP PUBLIC FUNDING OF SCHOOLS.
We thank labor and justice organizations as well as parents and teachers across the country fighting this handing of public schools over to Wall Street and global corporations like Johns Hopkins. A democracy cannot survive without people educated to be citizens first and workers second.
I'VE GOT YOUR NUMBER CARL STOKES! LET'S FIGHT ALL THE GOOD FIGHTS!
The problem in Baltimore with high property taxes begins with the loss of public revenue from corporate fraud and corruption and corporate and wealth tax evasion. Categorizing as private non-profits corporations that need to pay taxes is next in line. Baltimore is a city where all corporations are listed as quasi or non-profit. Getting rid of those false designations and ending corporate tax breaks brings lots of revenue to the city coffers. Then, rebuilding oversight agencies to monitor and recover corporate and wealth tax payments and oversight of contracts awarded by the city and state bring back billions of dollars each year.
So, Baltimore has no shortage of revenue, it just does not collect it and it allocates revenue in ways that are not in public interest. Property taxes run high because of all the fungible use of city funds. We would of course want to fix this problem first. Collecting what is due provides an avenue for lowering taxes across the board for all Baltimore City residents and not only those in certain zones.
A politician who does not shout this out as the major problem in Baltimore City is part of the problem.
Our view: Delegate McIntosh's proposals could build on Mayor Rawlings-Blake's reforms to make Baltimore more competitive with the suburbs
Baltimore Sun February 9,2014
The bad news is, if all goes according to plan, Baltimore's property tax rate will still be 62 percent higher than the rate in Baltimore County.
That's why we welcome a package of property tax legislation introduced last week by Del. Maggie McIntosh and co-sponsored by nearly every member of the city's House delegation. The bills seek to address some issues the mayor's efforts do not and serve to expand the debate about how to deal with one of the great barriers to Baltimore's resurgence.
One of the reasons Baltimore's property tax rate is so high is that much of the city is exempt from the tax. Non-profits from universities and hospitals to storefront churches pay no taxes on their property. Delegate McIntosh is asking whether all those tax-exempt properties are really being used for non-profit purposes, as required by the law. She proposes requiring non-profits to certify the ownership and use of their tax-exempt buildings, as homeowners recently had to do to maintain their Homestead credits. And she is also seeking to require the state to provide six additional assessors for Baltimore City, in part to determine whether all of the non-profit exemptions are warranted.
The third bill, which requires the Department of Legislative Services to study whether the city's property tax places an equitable burden on homeowners, rental property owners and commercial property owners, should be non-controversial. But the last two bills are a different story.
They deal with the Homestead credit, which is designed to help prevent long-time homeowners from being priced out of their houses because of increasing property tax assessments. The side effect of that program is to create inequities in how much owners of essentially identical properties pay. That's true everywhere but much more so in Baltimore because of the high tax rate. And the city also faces a particular problem in keeping young families who want to move into a larger home, or empty-nesters who have long lived in a big house and want to downsize, because they lose their Homestead credits in doing so and then have to pay full price. That's also true in other jurisdictions, but the presence of suburban counties with much lower tax rates makes it tempting to move out of the city.
Delegate McIntosh wants to create a pilot program to allow city homeowners to transfer a portion of their Homestead credits from one Baltimore property to another for a period of several years to see whether that increases the retention of residents. It's an intriguing idea but one that should be approached with caution. It changes the nature of the Homestead program, and it also would involve some complex calculations for tax collectors. Recent history shows the city and state have not always been good at administering such programs.
The final bill in the package is the one with the biggest potential to change the system. It asks the Department of Legislative Services to study what would happen if the city reduced the value of the Homestead credit while simultaneously cutting the property tax rate. Theoretically, such a move would be a break-even proposition for homeowners, at least in the aggregate, while making it much more affordable for people to move into the city or buy a new home here.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake's reforms are a good start, but to attract new families to the city, more may need to be done. Whether or not Delegate McIntosh's bills turn out to be the perfect solution, they represent a welcome jolt to the debate.
Does the Baltimore Sun think it is a public service to mention this meeting the day of the event at 9:00 am?
The citizens of Baltimore deserve free press and journalism that works in the public interest. That is towards what we are moving. Gone is the days of cronyism and captured media. The Sun was a leading national news journal and we understand the cuts that come with decreased revenue but these kinds of public interest events should be a priority. We live in a City with a long history of fraud/corruption and with a shadow government of Baltimore Development Corporation/Johns Hopkins. There is a plethora of investigative issues and the need for public outlets for open discussions in print, radio, and TV media. Did the Sun have an open discussion of this water bill policy or did it simply state the position of politicians/ development companies?
The most critical subject as regards water systems is the fact that 2 decades of building Hopkins' East Baltimore complex/Harbor East took as much money as would have be used for city-wide infrastructure projects and to rebuild the water system in Baltimore..' the state listed $13.9 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs. In addition, in a report to the EPA in April 2009, the state identified $5.4 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs'. That brings the cost to Baltimore to a few billion. Why tax the people?
We also need to know that the Board of Estimates continually protects the businesses downtown from what should be their fair share of cost. It makes no sense to have these highrise businesses paying the same increase for water that a homeowner would given the wear and tear on the water system these businesses place. Apartment and office buildings......corporate headquarters having tons of water coming and going place particular burden on the system and escape the issue by having all of the infrastructure surrounding their developments built new and subsidized.
We know that the working class and poor will again pay with their taxes what the city chose to use these two decades advancing the interests of Hopkins and luxury development. You gave the city's revenue to these projects now go back to these areas to replenish the coffers....oh, that's right...both Hopkins and downtown corporate buildings are tax free. People need to remember that these tax deals not only eliminate tax revenue that would pay for all these costs the public is being taxed.....the little tax that is paid by these Enterprise Zones are fenced in to their own communities....they offer no revenue to the general fund. This is the problem and it needs to be the solution!
Public hearing set for city water bill hike Residents invited to testify
Customers of Baltimore's water system are invited Wednesday to testify on a proposed 15 percent increase in water bills at a 9 a.m. hearing before the city Board of Estimates.
The increase would bring a typical customer's annual water bill to about $800.
The city's financial oversight panel will wait to vote on the rate hike. The Department of Audits has requested the board deter the vote for a week.
The agency is reviewing whether the proposed increase is justified. The review is based on an analysis of the Department of Public Works' projected revenues, expenditures and cash balances.
Public works recommended the 15 percent increase in water and wastewater fees last month to meet state and federal obligations and update the city's meter and billing systems as well as make necessary repairs and investments to the aging water lines.
Previously, officials had said an increase of about 12 percent was expected for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The board will also decide whether to authorize a 11 percent increase in fiscal year 2015 and an additional 11 percent increase in fiscal year 2016.
Residents who sign up are allowed to speak for two minutes. The meeting is held in City Hall chambers at 100 N. Holliday St. Visitors must have a photo ID to enter.
I do appreciate the Sun's commitment to this journalism that shines a light on the hypocracy of what is criminal and corrupt. It is ridiculous to allow these people of means to openly flaunt these laws until they are discovered....the implication is that most probably do not get discovered. No one believes that an educated and resourceful person is not aware of their daily personal operations.....NO ONE. Especially as people who gather more wealth have professional help just for that reason. So, when these deadbeats evade taxes with a simple pay-up with no charge....you know you do not have Rule of Law. The list of who is whom in the tax evasion list has public sector officials committing crimes and staying in office. That is where a Recall amendment to the charter will come into play...corruption = get out of office!
When the Sun says so quickly that the state will automatically give a Homestead credit for a house in Guilford....just as with Charles Village, or Canton or any of the communities that can actually afford to pay taxes one knows why Baltimore is a failure in public policy and rife with crime and corruption!
Author Wes Moore got undeserved tax breaks Credits shaved off $1,700 over four years
By Scott Calvert 11:59 a.m. EDT, June 18, 2013 Baltimore Sun
Baltimore resident Wes Moore has a standout resume. He's a best-selling author, Rhodes scholar and TV show host, and his rising public profile is fueling speculation he may be eyeing a run for political office.
But like many of his fellow city residents, Moore, 34, has been receiving homestead property tax credits he wasn’t entitled to. He now owes back taxes to the City of Baltimore.
In 2011, an investigation by The Baltimore Sun documented how hundreds of city homeowners were improperly receiving the credits on second homes or rentals. Many said they did not know they were getting the discount or didn't realize only owner-occupied homes qualified. There’s no formal mechanism to notify the state that you no longer live in a home you own.
Homestead troubles have become almost a rite of passage for prominent people: Frank M. Conaway Sr., clerk of the Baltimore Circuit Court, got discounts on two homes. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and her husband simultaneously received two credits.
Moore, who says he has no plan to run for office, bought a rowhouse in Riverside in 2006. He and his wife Dawn moved out in late 2008, yet since then the city has knocked $1,700 off the yearly tax bills, including a $63 discount this year for owner-occupants.
Moore told The Sun he wasn’t aware of any issues with the home’s taxes. "We would never willingly try to receive a credit for something we did not earn or wasn’t justified," he said. "We really just did not know."
Dawn Moore, a former top aide to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, contacted the state assessments department shortly after The Sun asked about the credits. She asked an official by email “what the next steps will be in order to pay back the money owed.” Once the state pulls the credits, she was told, the city will send a revised bill.
The Moores wanted to pay immediately, said the couple’s real estate agent, Anne Henslee. That’s what Khalil Zaied, Rawlings-Blake’s deputy chief of operations, did in April after The Sun learned he’d gotten $14,000 in credits on a rental. Dawn Moore was told to wait for a bill.
Henslee gave The Sun records showing the property in the 1500 block of Riverside Ave. passed a lead paint inspection in February. And she said she helped register the property as a rental with the city, though housing officials said they have no record of that.
Moore, a Johns Hopkins graduate, made a national name with his book, “The Other Wes Moore,” which details the divergent lives of himself and another Maryland boy with the same name.
The Moores moved back to Baltimore last year. They’ve kept the Riverside house as a rental and paid $1.2 million for a home in North Baltimore’s Guilford neighborhood. No homestead worries there: The state has already approved their application for that home.
HERE WE HAVE A POLITICIAN WHO KNOWS THAT WEALTH NEEDS TO PAY A PROGRESSIVE TAX IN ORDER TO KEEP PUBLIC SERVICES WORKING. IT IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS TO HAVE THE WEALTHIEST IN A CITY OR STATE NOT PAY PROGRESSIVELY HIGHER TAXES.....ESPECIALLY PROPERTY TAXES. YET HERE IN BALTIMORE AND MARYLAND, THAT ISN'T HAPPENING. WE WANT PEOPLE/BUSINESS PAYING TAXES......NOT BEING PATRONS WHO GIFT.
WE NEED TO BE VOTING FOR A DE BLASIO..........VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!
Higher Taxes in de Blasio’s Schools Push
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM Published: October 4, 2012
Bill de Blasio, the New York public advocate, laid out a provocative plan on Thursday to finance education programs by raising income taxes on the city’s wealthiest residents, an early populist salvo in his presumptive campaign for mayor.
Speaking at a breakfast event for a prominent civic group, Mr. de Blasio also attacked a mayoral rival, Speaker Christine C. Quinn of the City Council, for proposing a set of small-business reforms that he dismissed as “a joke,” and he chastised Ms. Quinn for declining to challenge Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on the issue.
Mr. de Blasio’s criticisms were a signal of the intraparty combat that is expected to accompany a competitive, and potentially decisive, Democratic primary in 2013.
But the focus of his speech — education — also proved contentious, with members of the well-heeled audience seemingly cool to his idea of raising taxes to provide more prekindergarten classes and after-school activities for students in grades six through eight.
Mr. de Blasio argued that improvements in early childhood education were critical to improving the city’s long-term economy and its middle class. He estimated that the new programs would cost about $500 million, which could be generated through a small tax surcharge on New Yorkers who earn $500,000 or more.
“The idea would be not to build more bureaucracy, but to build the middle class, to give kids the kind of educational foundation they need to move forward,” Mr. de Blasio told members of the Association for a Better New York, a group whose events are a standard stop on the city’s political circuit. “We will be asking people who worked hard and have done well to contribute a little more and make this happen.”
A person earning $1 million in annual income would pay an additional $2,120 under Mr. de Blasio’s plan, which was modeled after a similar surcharge used to hire new police officers under a 1990s anticrime initiative of Mayor David N. Dinkins, Mr. de Blasio’s former employer. Any new surcharge would require approval by the State Legislature.
Mr. de Blasio’s proposal was an incursion into policy territory typically dominated by Ms. Quinn, who has made early childhood education a priority. This year, Ms. Quinn successfully pressed Albany to make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds; Mr. de Blasio said his proposal would affect 4-year-olds.
Mr. de Blasio is a longtime beneficiary of labor support whose expected candidacy has been viewed warily by the city’s business elite. His proposal received a tepid response from the crowd, which included many wealthy civic leaders who would almost certainly be affected by his higher tax.
A question from the audience that challenged the rationale behind Mr. de Blasio’s tax proposal received more applause than many lines in his prepared remarks.
“When you come to a group like this and you say to them, ‘I want to tax you,’ they immediately shut down,” said Ernest A. Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, a city union.
But Mr. de Blasio, who joked in his speech that he was delivering his remarks in “the lion’s den,” said he believed that the goal of improving the city’s schools ought to require some investment from the wealthy.
“It’s a roomful of people who know our educational status quo is unacceptable,” Mr. de Blasio said. He added, of his proposal, “I’m sure they’d love it if there was some other way to fund it, but I bet they will not disagree that this is fundamental to our future success.”
Mr. de Blasio has reached out to small-business groups in recent weeks, and he criticized a recent plan by Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg to simplify regulation of city businesses.
“What the mayor and the speaker did was lip service,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters after his speech.
“They don’t really intend to change it, and they should just come out and say that,” Mr. de Blasio said.
Of Ms. Quinn, he added, “She is clearly not challenging the mayor, and working with him to continue a bad policy.”
Ms. Quinn’s office referred an inquiry about Mr. de Blasio’s speech to Robert Bookman, a lawyer who often represents the hospitality industry in disputes with the city. Mr. Bookman said he was disappointed to hear Mr. de Blasio dismiss an effort that he said would help small-business owners.
“He should be careful who he’s insulting when he does this kind of stuff,” Mr. Bookman said of the public advocate.
Mr. Bloomberg had his own sharp words for Mr. de Blasio, telling reporters that the public advocate wishes to tax “anything and everything.”
“He wants to drive everybody out of the city,” the mayor, who has clashed frequently with Mr. de Blasio, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. He added, in a sarcastic tone: “But that’s O.K. He’s a good guy.”
Can we guess where these residential tax credits will happen and who will benefit? It won't be existing homeowners or communities not in the Enterprise Zones!
Mayor plans residential tax credit program
Posted: 7:57 pm Thu, October 4, 2012
By Alissa Gulin
Daily Record Business Writer
In an effort to bolster residential development downtown, city officials plan to launch a 15-year tax credit program for certain housing projects, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Thursday evening at the annual meeting of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
CORPORATE WELFARE IT IS!!!!
Tax increment financing, or TIF, is bad public policy amounting to welfare for the wealthy EDITORIAL FROM THE AEGIS September 25, 2012 | 1:38 p.m. Baltimore Sun
The Harford County Council is once again poised to act as a financing agent for a developer as part of the welfare for the wealthy flim-flam known as tax increment financing. The onerous process is more commonly referred to by the alkaline acronym TIF.
It was a bad idea the previous time the council agreed to front the financing for a private development project, in this case Beechtree Estates, and it will be a bad idea when the council votes sometime after an Oct. 16 public hearing, presumably to approve cut-rate, county fronted financing for a portion of a 111-acre office, retail and residential development near the I-95 interchange with Route 543 in Creswell on the old Bren Mar Park property.
Make no mistake: The deal on the table is regarded in the realm of local government planners as being a function of local government and is all but assured of approval when the county council acts.
What's in the offing for the two benefiting developers — 95-543 LLC and Bren Mar 1 LLC — is a relative newcomer to the menu of what are often referred to as economic development and planning tools. One reason TIF seems to be getting a free pass in communities like Harford is it's mind-numbingly boring and complex on top of that. So few people other than those directly affected understand it, that almost no one bothers to speak out against it. Those who did speak out in the past against the Beechtree TIF, and who are likely to do the same against the Bren Mar/James Run TIF, have been brushed off by both the county executive and the county council as nothing more than ultra-obstructionists with personal political agendas.
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To have a clear understanding why tax increment financing is a bad idea, it's necessary to have a rudimentary understanding of how it works.
Typically, when land is developed, it is the responsibility of the developer to pay for roads, water and sewer lines, sidewalks and other infrastructure. When the development is completed, the private buildings are sold and ownership of the public works infrastructure is transferred to the county government for ownership purposes, as well as long term maintenance and repair responsibilities. The developer profits from the sale of the private buildings, whose price includes expenses assigned to utilities and related costs, while the government gets saddled with responsibility for maintenance of the new infrastructure. In theory, this arrangement is a financial wash because the cost of maintenance and repair is covered over the long haul by the county taxes collected on the private properties in the new development.
Tax increment financing upends this arrangement in a way that gives greater benefit to the developer by increasing the risk and potential costs to existing taxpayers. Instead of the developer having to seek private financing for the roads, sidewalks, water and sewer lines, the government serves as the financing agent by issuing bonds, turning the money over to the developer and then setting up the new development as a special taxing district and collecting the money to pay off the bonds it issued from those who ultimately own the real estate.
Clearly, it's a good deal for the developer. For the county, the benefits are hard to quantify. It doesn't earn money by serving as the financing agent. Depending on how the special taxing district is arranged, the county could end up losing the taxes it would have collected to pay for the cost of schools and other off-site facilities and services impacted by the TIF financed development. In other words, the primary benefit the county government supposedly gets from new developments – property taxes – goes instead to pay off the loans that paid for the roads, etc. that developers traditionally paid for as part of their costs of doing business and their successors paid through taxes. TIF supporters claim these projects bring jobs and other taxes, usually of the income variety, but there's no proof the county receives any greater economic benefit from a TIF project than it does from one developed with conventional financing.
A TIF structured in such a way that the property tax payments against the infrastructure investment are over and above standard property taxes may subject the county to a lesser financial burden — though it doesn't take away the risk to the county if the development deal goes bad.
A TIF structured to charge extra taxes again is good for the developer who gets the deal, but it isn't necessarily good for the market. It gives developers who secure tax increment financing an edge over competing developers who aren't so politically well-connected, thus distorting the market. Moreover, if the project being proposed has economic merit, then conventional private sector — not government involved — financing ought to be available. All TIFs do in the end is allow the favored developer to charge less money for lots and/or buildings because of the low interest rates on the financing. Incidentally, those low interest rates got that way because, you guessed it, the lenders' earnings from TIF loans are exempt from federal and, possibly, state and county income taxes.
Tax increment financing likewise poses an unreasonable risk to the county government — and thus the taxpayers — by putting the government in the business of speculative development financing. TIF advocates claim the county incurs no risk because the project being financed serves as the loan collateral and, though the county issues the TIF bonds, its own credit rating is similarly not affected. It's a claim we've frankly never bought. Let this planned $23 million Bren Mar LLC TIF loan go into default and then see how it affects the county's credit to borrow money in the future for schools, police stations and parks. Should we as taxpayers be asked to take that risk for the sake of a few more office buildings, a so-called "lodging house" and more big box retail?
Like the previous tax increment financing arrangement, the Bren Mar TIF should be rejected. Unfortunately, this one will probably be enacted because such arrangements have become a part of how Harford County does business of the kind that it has no business doing.
THIS GROUP IS ALWAYS ON TOP OF THE BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT CORP AND ITS MISGUIDED USE OF CITY REVENUE. FOLLOW THEIR ACTIONS AND JOIN THEM!
ANOTHER BDC IS POSSIBLE
August 14, 2012
Tax Dodgers lend support for more tax breaks at BDC’s Harbor Point hearing On August 8th, the BDC held an open hearing for John Paterakis’ Harbor East Development Group to present their application for extending the city’s Enterprise Zone to once again cover their property at Harbor Point. (The Enterprise Zone, which offers significant breaks on property taxes and token tax credits for hiring the economically marginalized, is intended to spur redevelopment in distressed areas, and was recently redrawn to exclude the high-value real estate east of the Inner Harbor.)
A crowd of concerned Baltimore residents packed the hearing to question the wisdom of handing out a multimillion tax break on one of the city’s toniest development properties—indeed, on a property which Exelon has already committed to anchor—while the city shutters rec centers and firehouses in less affluent neighborhoods. The Paterakis group’s representative faced tough questions about local hiring and fair development, and the crowd seemed unwilling to go along with the trickle-down vision of economic development on the table.
Luckily for the developers, the Tax Dodgers were present to go to bat for the 1%, and make sure that lucrative tax breaks go to the people who deserve them—the wealthy and well-connected!
Full photo set
Councilman Kraft, supporter of the Paterakis tax cuts, explains why we need to build luxury homes to help the poor (VIDEO, see especially after 2′ mark)
Coverage in The Daily Record
Background from the Baltimore Brew: “Paterakis Group Seeks to Restore Lucrative Tax Break for Harbor Point”
PLEASE LOOK AT THESE ARTICLES TO GET A PICTURE OF A BUSINESS TAX CREDIT SYSTEM GONE BAD. THESE HIGH LEVELS OF TAX FORGIVENESS STARTED WITH O'MALLEY'S ADMINISTRATION AS MAYOR AND CONTINUES TO RAWLINGS-BLAKE....TWO DECADES OF MONEY DIRECTED TO ONE AREA OF THE CITY AS OTHER COMMUNITIES STARVED OF FUNDING CRUMBLED. THANKS TO UNITED WORKERS.....A GREAT ORGANIZATION.
 http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-05-06/news/bs-md-ci-fire-20120506_1_fire-companies-fire-chief-james-clack-three-children and interview with Mark Reutter, July 6, 2012
 http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2011/08/31/rolley-says-rawlings-blake-should-return-16000-from-developer-cordish/, and http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2011/08/31/update-cordish-contributions-to-rawlings-blake-reach-21000/
 http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-06-23/business/bs-bz-cordish-rent-abatement-20110623_1_ground-rent-million-rent-cordish-cos and http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2011/06/23/cordish-co-seeks-3-million-in-rent-relief-for-inner-harbor-properties/
 http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/blog/real-estate/2012/05/developer-criticizes-proposed.html and http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-03-28/news/bs-ed-angelos-state-center-20110328_1_superblock-bdc-proposals
 http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2012/04/23/superblock-tax-break-will-amount-to-about-35-million/ and interview with Mark Reutter, Friday July 6, 2012
THE DEVELOPMENT AND TAX CREDITS CONTINUE AS SCHOOLS CLOSE, RECREATION CENTERS CLOSE, FIRE HOUSES CLOSE, AND JOBS ARE LOST IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR. WE HAVE A BUDGET DEFICIT YOU KNOW. SO THE COMMUNITIES THAT AGREE TO THE TIF LEVERAGING ARE THE COMMUNITIES AROUND THE HARBOR WHO BASICALLY ARE MAKING IT OK IF THE ENTIRE CITY FORGOES FUTURE TAX REVENUE. IT WAS FENCED INTO THEIR COMMUNITIES ANYWAY THEY SAY.....THE CITY WOULD NEVER SEE IT.
City plans new bridge to handle traffic boost in Harbor Point
Baltimore Business Journal by James Briggs, Reporter Date: Thursday, August 9, 2012, 9:18am EDT - Last Modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012, 9:47am EDT
The Baltimore City Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans to build a bridge that would extend Central Avenue to Harbor Point.
The city and Harbor East Development Group LLC want a new bridge to accommodate the increased traffic that is expected to come with the proposed 2.9 million square feet of new development, including a headquarters for Exelon Corp., at Harbor Point.
Harbor Point is a 27-acre waterfront site between Harbor East and Fells Point. The only way to reach the site from downtown is on South Caroline Street.
Living Classrooms, a nonprofit organization that uses waterfront sites and campuses around the harbor for educational purposes, had expressed concerns about losing access to some areas because of a new bridge.
But City Councilman James Kraft, whose district includes Harbor Point, said an agreement has been reached “that would not affect their ability to use the water down there.”
Officials at Living Classrooms could not be reached for comment.
Harbor East Development President Michael S. Beatty has said he wants a bridge in place by the time the Exelon (NYSE: EXC) headquarters is scheduled to open in 2014.
The DOT, which would handle bridge construction, has scheduled a community open house for 6 p.m. Aug. 29 at 1417 Thames St. to discuss the plan with area residents.
A new bridge would ease traffic beyond Harbor Point, Kraft said.
“If it’s done right, it will open up that [Interstate] 83 corridor and President Street corridor,” he said. “You have the traffic being able to come in Harbor Point and Harbor East down President Street and that can exit onto Central Avenue.”
The city is mulling multiple traffic patterns that could be created from the bridge, which would span from Lancaster Street to Harbor Point.
Construction likely will be paid for through a yet-to-be-passed tax-increment financing, or TIF, deal between the city and Harbor East Development. A TIF borrows against future property taxes to pay for infrastructure like roads and utilities.
“I got letters from community associations supporting the TIF, which is very unique,” Kraft said.
That’s at least in part due to the proposed bridge, which Kraft said “could be a great advantage to ... everyone who works in the greater Fells Point area.”
The citizens of Baltimore want to be clear, there is a perception of corruption in City Hall and how it does business that any internal audit will not address. That is the point of what is being called a duplicate audit. We need to have an intensive audit routine for the near future as we work to reform the way the city does business. After some cycles of concentrated audits there will be less need and a movement to targeted audits. Until that threshold is met there should be no attempts to stop this bill and in fact we will be pushing to return to the original bill put forward by Councilman Stokes.
There is potential for hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars lost through city agencies that, while may not fully be recovered, will easily pay for any costs associated with the audits. I dare say that even as the Mayor contributes limited funding, we could and should plan on an auditing system that is self-financing in its earlier stages.
MOST FRAUD WILL BE DRIVEN BY CITY DEVELOPERS
Comptroller: Audits bill would require duplicate work, wasteful spending
Joan M. Pratt requests three amendments to already-weakened legislation By Luke Broadwater The Baltimore Sun 10:47 a.m. EDT, August 13, 2012
Arguing that a proposal for increased city audits would result in duplicated efforts and wasteful spending, Baltimore Comptroller Joan Pratt and City Auditor Robert L. McCarty have submitted a letter to members of the City Council asking them to amend the hotly debated audits bill, which is set for a vote Monday evening.
"Much of the work that is performed each year ... is the same work that would be performed in the audit of agencies," Pratt and McCarty wrote, arguing the city already conducts an annual financial audit that covers all agencies and doesn't need a second outside firm also to do so. "Therefore, it would be a duplication of effort and expense to have this work performed again. This would neither be a cost-effective nor efficient use of taxpayers' funds."
In the letter, Pratt submitted a request for three amendments to the legislation that she says would clarify the bill and avoid duplicated efforts and expenses. McCarty did not take a position on the bill to maintain his independence, the letter states.
A weakened version of the intensely debated bill won preliminary approval last month, meaning it could go before voters in November after a final council vote Monday night.
The amended legislation would require 14 city agencies to be audited at least once every four years. The original bill, sponsored by City Councilman Carl Stokes, called for audits of all 55 agencies every two years. Stokes says some agencies, including the Department of Recreation and Parks, haven't been audited in decades.
The Department of Audits, which has 37 auditor positions — 32 of which are filled — falls under Pratt's office. She has said conducting the increased audits would be possible if Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake provides the funding in her budget. The mayor has recently increased funding to the audits department, but the bill could require the city to allocate several million more dollars to McCarty's office. The city has conducted between 10 and 20 audits each of the past three years, including a high-profit audit released in February that found widespread problems in city water bills.
WE WANT TO BE CLEAR, WHEN THE CITY COUNCIL ADMITS TO THE PRESENCE OF FRAUD WITHIN CITY SYSTEMS, THIS IS NOT JUST SMALL TIME CITY WORKERS AND THEIR SCAMS, THE MAJORITY OF THE FRAUD IS HAPPENING THROUGH BALTIMORE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS AND THE POLITICIANS ARE USING IT FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE......THIS IS WHAT WE CALL CRONYISM AND A CAPTURED ELECTION SYSTEM.
City Council kills audit plan in surprise 8-7 vote Sponsor Carl Stokes says Mayor Rawlings-Blake tipped the scales against the bill.
Mark Reutter June 25, 2012 at 9:35 pm Baltimore Brew
Carl Stokes accused three city councilmen of switching their votes to defeat the audit bill.
A bill that would have placed on the November ballot a plan to audit city agencies every two years was defeated today in the City Council.
Sponsor Carl Stokes said he was “stunned” by the 7-8 rejection, and charged three councilmen with switching their votes under pressure from the mayor’s office.
“I was completely thrown for a loop,” Stokes said, of the “nay” votes of Councilmen William H. Cole IV, Nick Mosby and William “Pete” Welch, all of whom Stokes said promised to support the bill. (Welch was one of the sponsors of the bill.)
The bill was believed to have had the lukewarm support of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, whose administration at first opposed the bill as too costly, until the mayor released a letter on June 12 suggesting that City Comptroller Joan Pratt should conduct audits of large city agencies “on a routine basis.”
Yesterday, however, the mayor’s representative on the City Council, Edward Reisinger, took the initiative in quickly moving the bill to a vote under the steady gaze of Kim Washington, deputy director of government and community affairs, and other members of the mayor’s inner circle.
“The mayor didn’t like this bill because of the person who sponsored it,” Stokes told The Brew. “I am bothered by the lack of civility of my colleagues and by the mayor’s office. This is not the way to do good legislation.”
Not Audited in Decades
Stokes’ bill had gained popular momentum in the last two months after it was revealed that most city agencies have not been audited since the reign of Mayor William Donald Schaefer in the 1980s, if not earlier.
“No one remembers when departments, such as Recreation and Parks, were audited last,” Stokes said, adding, “In truth, we don’t know if the numbers we are voting on in the budget are real. All this bill asked the City Council to do is to allow the voters to decide whether they want audits.”
Referring to Cole, Mosby and Welch, Stokes said in an interview, “They not only had told me they support this [bill], they said they were enthusiastic about it – that it makes good sense.”
The bill also had the support of community activists and several former city officials.
“Nay” Voters Say they Support Audits
Mosby and Welch said this evening that they fully support agency audits, but had reservations about the Stokes bill.
“I’m always a friend of auditing. My career started in auditing,” said Welch, who represents West Baltimore. But he said, “I’m not sure you need to bring the process and policy before the voters. If you do, each voter will spend an hour in the voter booth, micromanaging the system.”
Noting that the defeated audit bill was sent back to the Council’s Judiciary Committee for further review, Welch said, “I’ll have wonderful amendments for Carl’s bill. I’d like to support it in a different form.”
Mosby said that his “no” vote today should not be interpreted as being against audits. “I’m in favor, but it has to be effective,” he said after the vote.
He faulted the Stokes bill for calling for the audits of all city agencies every two years, rather than being more selective.
“[The bill] gives a pretense to voters that we’ll do [audit] 30 or 40 different agencies. The likelihood of that would be slim. I want something to be effective instead of currying to your emotions. That means a focus on agencies that have the size and budget that makes sense to audit.”
Mosby, who represents parts of northwest and north Baltimore, called for auditing rules that are “dynamic,” and faulted the Stokes approach to auditing as “static.”
Fellow councilman, Brandon Scott, who voted against the bill, said he, too, supported audits, but warned against “a cobra that has no venom.”
In order for audits to be effective in Baltimore, Scott said, the mayor, department heads and the City Council have to “all come together and make this happen. Then we’d have something that is good.”
Cole did not return a phone call seeking comment tonight.
Cole, Mosby, Reisinger, Scott and Welch joined Robert Curran, Rochelle “Rikki” Spector and Sharon Green Middleton in opposing the bill.
The Councilmen voting in favor were in addition to Stokes: James B. Kraft, Bill Henry, Helen Holton, Warren Branch, Mary Pat Clarke and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young.
MAYOR RAWLINGS-BLAKE AND HER OBSTRUCTIONIST ATTITUDE TOWARDS ANY ACCOUNTABILITY MEANS THAT SHE MUST GO!!!! LOOK FOR A RECALL REFERENDUM
Tax break errors cost Baltimore millions, Sun investigation finds Two buildings were underbilled by a combined $1 million
By Scott Calvert, The Baltimore Sun 9:23 a.m. EDT, June 24, 2012
The city of Baltimore has failed to collect millions of dollars in potential revenue because of chronic errors and miscalculations in a program offering tax breaks for historic renovations, a Baltimore Sun investigation has found.
The Sun documented mistakes in the historic tax credit program that in some cases span nearly a decade. Time and time again, errors originating at the state assessments agency got past city officials charged with overseeing Baltimore's finances, even though the officials were alerted to similar problems in 1999.
Two downtown apartment buildings, the Atrium at Market Center and The Munsey, together have been underbilled for property taxes by more than $1 million because of the errors, state officials confirmed after being presented with The Sun's findings. Several other commercial properties have gotten excessive windfalls that reach as high as six figures.
The owners of nearly 1,200 buildings in Baltimore benefit from the historic credit program, which aims to boost preservation by forgiving a portion of property taxes on rehabs for 10 years. In addition to several downtown apartment complexes, beneficiaries of the credit range from affordable-housing buyers in modest rowhouses to well-known former athletes living in luxury condos.
The Sun's findings are the latest sign that the sloppy handling of property taxes is depriving the city of much-needed cash — money that could pay for already underfunded services or help reduce the city's high property tax rate.
Government officials said they don't know how widespread the errors are among historic credits. But within the program's 10 largest tax breaks alone, The Sun found seven with errors totaling around $2 million in uncollected city taxes.
When asked to comment on The Sun's conclusions, Owen C. Charles, deputy director of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation, conceded that his agency has made repeated errors in administering some aspects of the program. "The computations are incorrect," he said.
"Certainly it's unfortunate that this has occurred," he added. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure the rectification does occur, and to ensure going forward that the values on which the credits are computed are done in a manner they should be."
Asked why the city had not been not more vigilant to ensure credits were correct, Baltimore's deputy finance director, Henry J. Raymond, said only that his department performs periodic audits "when resources permit and corrects erroneous credits when identified." He also acknowledged that the city itself has contributed to errors over the past three years.
Raymond said the city would bill property owners for any unwarranted tax breaks from prior years.
Both he and Charles played down the extent of the problems, insisting that most historic credits have been processed correctly. Yet neither could offer detailed evidence to support that assertion.
Earlier articles in The Sun's "Taxing Baltimore" series examined other tax breaks, finding various problems that have also cost the city treasury. For example, lax oversight of the homestead credit program allowed hundreds of homeowners to get multiple tax breaks not allowed under the law.
Problems aren't limited to tax break programs: Artificially low values set by the state for unsold waterfront condos have cost the city more than $10 million in lost taxes.
The Sun also previously documented other troubles with the historic credit: At least five city homeowners received the tax discount without even applying for it. Charles attributed those mistakes to "coding errors," and the city has since worked with the affected owners to set up repayment plans.
The city's historic credit is one of several subsidies available for preservation projects. The state of Maryland offers an income tax credit, and the federal government has a similar program for income-producing properties like apartments.
With its program, the city sought to capitalize on one of Baltimore's obvious assets: the vast stock of decades-old buildings that define the city's character, from the popular waterfront areas of Canton and Fells Point to far less affluent parts of town.
Since 1997 the city credit has helped encourage more than $500 million in investment, said Kathleen Kotarba, executive director of the city's Commission for Historic and Architectural Preservation. The agency determines whether a property is eligible for the historic credit and forwards the information to the state.
From the beginning, the tax breaks have been concentrated in places like Fells Point, Federal Hill and Mount Vernon. But Kotarba said recent applications have come from struggling parts of East Baltimore, many involving vacant buildings. Among the more familiar recipients of Baltimore's program are the American Can Co. retail complex in Canton, and the Stieff Silver building in Hampden.
To qualify for the credit, a property must contribute to a historic district or be a landmark. More than 55,000 properties — nearly one in four citywide — are eligible. Other requirements include a minimum rehab investment equal to 25 percent of the property's present value.
Copyright © 2012, The Baltimore Sun
There are two flaws with Baltimore's Homestead Tax Credit system that reflects a distortion in revenue collection in the city and state. First, the people who will be the ones who fail to register are not only those who may not qualify, but the low-income who are not connected to normal channels of news and information. It is very easy to miss reading the newspaper the day this article is released and people with limited computer access rarely think to make the City Website their first destination. It seems that an automated system would identify these homeowners and target them with letters to the home and phone calls.
The second is the failure to adopt the legislation presented this year to tie property taxes to income/wealth. Baltimore is revenue poor because of built-in fencing of taxes from the wealthy, a longstanding practice that is now being extended to businesses in the form of tax credits. Baltimore isn't a poor city, it is a captured city that uses an antibellum style system of money allocation.
Homeowners must apply for property-tax credit or lose it State launches online feature to show which owners are set
By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun 11:26 a.m. EDT, April 3, 2012
TOP 10 HOMESTEAD TAX RECIPIENTS: No. 10 — $15,900 This Guilford home is assessed at $1.1 million. This year the owners are receiving a homestead credit of $15,900, lowering their property tax bill to $9,900.
MAYOR RAWLINGS-BLAKE IF FIGHTING HARD FOR THE RIGHT OF THE AFFLUENT TO HAVE THEIR TAX SHELTERS!
Tens of thousands of Maryland homeowners who haven't already applied for the Homestead Property Tax Credit have until the end of the year to do so or lose the often-valuable break.
The deadline was set so long ago — 2007 — that some residents might not remember if they applied. State assessors, hoping to cut down on anxious calls, launched an online feature Monday that notes whether a property's application is in and processed.
"We get such tremendous volume of calls, and one of the unfortunate things is, when people do call … they sometimes get a busy signal," said Robert E. Young, director of the state Department of Assessments and Taxation. "It's so much easier just to go to the website."
The owners of 807,000 homes in the state are getting a break on their property taxes thanks to the homestead credit, which acts as a limit on annual increases. About 150,000 owners haven't sent in their applications, according to the assessments agency.
The statewide homestead program is only for primary residences. It keeps the amount of assessed value a homeowner is taxed on from increasing more than 10 percent a year, with even lower caps in most jurisdictions. The limit is 4 percent a year in Baltimore and Baltimore County, for instance.
The break can add up. Just in Baltimore, thousands of homeowners got at least half their property taxes forgiven by the homestead credit this tax year.
The flip side is that the homestead credit cost the city $120 million in foregone revenue this year alone — and for years the program has been plagued by owners taking the credit on rentals, boarded-up homes and other properties that weren't their main residence. The state revoked credits on more than 550 city homes this year after a Baltimore Sun investigation turned up many examples of owners "double-dipping" on two, three or even four homes.
Eligibility problems prompted the 2007 registration law. New buyers must apply for the credit within six months of purchase, while all others have until Dec. 31 of this year. This once-per-home process requires owners to submit their Social Security number so assessors can cross-check the addresses listed on income tax returns and drivers' licenses to verify that the properties are primary residences.
Assessors figure that some of the 150,000 homestead recipients who haven't applied yet aren't eligible for the credit. Applications require owners to acknowledge that they're submitting their information under penalty of perjury.
"That's a big variable — people who know they shouldn't be getting it, and they aren't going to apply," Young said. "They know that we're serious about that perjury oath."
To check the status of an application, homeowners can visit the assessments agency's website, dat.state.md.us, and type in their address on the Real Property Data Search page. (The direct link is sdatcert3.resiusa.org/rp_rewrite.) If the state received and processed a homestead application, that fact will be noted at the bottom of the property's page, Young said.
The state has received 766,000 applications so far, he said. That includes owners eligible for the homestead credit in the sense that they live in their homes, but who aren't receiving a break on their taxes this year because they don't qualify mathematically.
Homeowners who fail to apply in time to keep their credit will lose it in the tax year beginning July 1, 2013. But Young said those who miss the deadline can get their credit reinstated in 2014 — the amount they would have received that year if they had met the Dec. 31 deadline.
The assessments agency has tried to get the word out about the requirement by including applications in assessment notices and telling homeowners who call in on other subjects. Young said local governments also have indicated that they will include a notice in the tax bills going out in July.
Carl Cleary, housing coordinator at the Reservoir Hill Improvement Council in Baltimore, said housing counselors also can pass on the word. He wants to make sure no one loses their homestead credit because they didn't realize they have to apply.
"With the deadline coming, we could certainly help," he said.
Cordish and his business at the Power Plant are under investigation for fraud and accepting business tax credits under false pretenses as former employees of his as well as other Inner Harbor businesses are exposed for employee wage and work violations. Questions regarding compliance with requirements of tax credits already received should mean that assigning more would be ill-advised.
Cordish seeks tax break for Port Discovery balloon project
by James Briggs, Reporter Date: Friday, June 15, 2012, 6:00am EDT - Baltimore Business Journal.
Developer David Cordish is seeking a tax break from Baltimore City so his firm can build a $119 million mixed-use project at the former Port Discovery balloon site.
M.J. “Jay” Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., said Cordish Cos. has requested a Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, as part of its proposal to build 226 apartments, 15,000 square feet of retail and a 225-space parking garage.
The tower would be constructed on a narrow site — less than one acre — atop the Shot Tower Metro Station.
“We are analyzing the proposal,” Brodie said.
MY MESSAGE TO BRODIE AND BDC:
We need to see a list of business tax credit recipients, the terms of the agreements, and the auditing and oversight records that show compliance.
Please let me know when that will be available.
Maryland allows public referendums at the local levels. This means that the citizens of Baltimore can petition to inact a recall/term limit law on its politicians. We need to work that into the election in two years. This Mayor needs to go and we need more flexibility in hiding politicians accountable. Two years may be a long time, but it's better than five years! This, like the Hopkins development projects take billions of tax money from the citiznes of Baltimore and give it to corporations. These corporations then 'donate to charity' money for other development project they want and get a tax write-off. THIS IS THE LARGEST PUBLIC SCAM I HAVE EVER SEEN! IT IS AMAZING THAT NO LEGAL CHALLENGES FROM CIVIL OR PUBLIC JUSTICE. WOW.
Proposed Under Armour TIF financing violates city’s own guidelines Sports apparel maker will put up much less than 8-to-1 private-public ratio. Most of bond money to go to sports facilities and park.
Mark Reutter May 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm Baltimore Brew
Under Armour is seeking city bond money to expand its Tide Point headquarters in Locust Point.
Categories The Baltimore Board of Finance’s approval yesterday of $35 million in tax increment financing for the expansion of Under Armour’s Locust Point headquarters violates its own financing guidelines.
A memo by the board’s clerk notes that the proposal is at odds with the city’s TIF financing policy requirements by supplying a significantly higher ratio of public to private funds.
The memo also reveals that the lion’s share of TIF bond money won’t go to street or other infrastructure improvements in Locust Point, but to a new waterfront park and “state-of-the-art” sports facilities adjoining the Under Armour headquarters.
The memo says that ownership of the park site has not been determined and may wind up in private hands “with public access.”
The memo justifies the high ratio of public underwriting by saying that “due [to] the public nature of certain of the expenditures and the relocation to Baltimore of a major corporate headquarters, this project is worthy of an exception.”
It also asserts that without the TIF tax break, the expansion would not yield Under Armour, which is acting as its own developer, a sufficient return on its investment.
Brew Obtains Memo Detailing Plan
The board yesterday went into closed session to discuss the Under Armour plan, invoking an exemption to Maryland’s Open Meetings Act that permits closed meetings when a matter involves proprietary financial information.
This reporter, along with a reporter from The Baltimore Sun and citizen activist Kim Trueheart, were asked to leave prior to the “presentation for the board’s approval of the introduction of legislation for the North Locust Point TIF,” which comprises the Under Armour expansion.
The Brew obtained a copy of the board’s six-page memo describing the financial ramifications of the Under Armour plan, which will be introduced to the City Council for approval.
In addition to the high ratio of public financing, the memo describes the city’s plan to spend $27 million of the $31 million of bond funds ($3.9 million will be consumed in financing fees and reserves) on a park to be located adjacent to Under Armour’s current Tide Point campus on Hull Street.
The waterfront land is currently owned by the Maryland Port Administration and used by Westway Terminals for the storage of acids, molasses and chemicals in large tanks.
Who Will Own Sports Facilities?
The city proposes to relocate Westway’s tanks, upgrade the existing bulkheads and piers along the harbor and redevelop the acreage “as open space with state-of-the-art athletic fields and sport facilities.”
Who will own the park and athletic facilities has not been determined, according to the memo, written by Stephen M. Kraus, chief of the city’s bureau of treasury management and clerk of the finance board.
“Potential scenarios” for ownership of the site, Kraus told the board, “include state, city or private ownership with public access.”
Below Minimum TIF Guidelines
The city’s Board of Finance handles matters involving the capital budget, issuance of municipal bonds and other financial matters.
The seven-member board includes City Comptroller Joan M. Pratt and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who was absent yesterday and represented by Finance Director Harry E. Black.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Under Armour CEO Kevin A. Plank cut the ribbon on the company's new innovation lab last year. (counterkicks.com)
The TIF guidelines adopted by the board in 2008 (and updated in January 2012) state that “each project must evidence substantial private resources (debt and/or equity) for the development.”
The guidelines recommend that developer-sponsored projects have an 8:1 to 12:1 ratio of non-city funding sources to city funding sources.
Kraus’ memo states that the Under Armor project has a 6.6:1 ratio, meaning the amount of private funds is 21% below the recommended minimum.
But this calculation actually understates the low level of Under Armour’s own capital commitment.
It includes the company’s $60 million purchase of its Tide Point headquarters last July – months before the Finance Board granted approval to begin the process of reviewing Under Armour’s expansion.
By including the building purchase, the ratio reached the 6.6:1 ratio. If excluded, the ratio drops to 4.8:1 of private-public financing. This figure is 66% below the minimum 8:1 threshold.
The Kraus memo breaks down the public improvements to be made with the $35 million TIF bond, showing that three-quarters of the bond money would go to the proposed park and sports facilities:
Park and sports facilities – $27,340,000
Bond costs and reserves – $3,953,680
Fort Henry bike/jogging trail – $1,740,020
Key Highway-McComas St. intersection – $1,000,000
Tide Point Promenade – $267,800
Latrobe Park improvements – $200,000
Hull St. improvements – $181,500
Tide Point triangle lot improvements – $116,700
Fort Ave. streetscape – $80,000
Haubert St. improvements $76,000
Tide Point Key Highway lot improvements – $61,250
Enterprise Zone Tax Credits and Federal Grant
Under Armour also qualifies for “EZ” (Enterprise Zone) tax credits for its proposed expansion.
The land is part of the Locust Point Industrial Area, which entitles the sports apparel maker to a 50% reduction in city property taxes for five years, with 10% incremental increases for the next five years.
Under Armour is proposing to spend $170 million in expansion, so the EZ tax credits would be substantial. (The Kraus memo indicates a $8.4 million property tax credit, which is partially reimbursed to Baltimore by the state.)
In addition, the company disclosed earlier this month that it has filed for a federal grant to build a greenway from its Tide Point campus to Fort McHenry.
The grant amount was not disclosed to Baltimore Business Journal during a breakfast meeting sponsored by Ballard Spahr, the Baltimore law office representing Under Armour.
Headed For City Council
Yesterday’s approval of the plan by the Finance Board means that three pieces of legislation will be submitted to the City Council by the Rawlings-Blake administration.
They are: an amendment expanding the original development district, an ordinance that designates Locust Point as a special taxing district, and approval for the city to issue TIF bonds not to exceed $35.017 million.
About $75,000 Per Job
When completed in 2021, the corporate expansion by Under Armour is expected to include 600,000 square feet of Class A office space, 25,000 square feet of retail space and 800 new parking spaces.
The expansion will create 617 new jobs, according to the Baltimore Development Corp. (BDC), whose outgoing president, M.J. “Jay” Brodie, presented material on the project to the Finance Board during yesterday’s private session.
However, a consultant hired by the finance department, MuniCap, Inc., estimates that employment will increase to 1,641 from the current 1,176 by 2015, or 465 jobs.
By the latter estimate, each job created by Under Armour will amount to $75,503 in TIF bond funding
This is what I mean when I say we are watching. I heard a staffperson say that her Baltimore politician had to vote for audits because she wanted to get reelected.....they had better want to vote for local jobs and drop the tax credits as well! We want workers off the picket lines! Notice this is a non-binding agreement to hire local.
Call for Superblock jobs tie-in lacks Baltimore backing Baltimore
Business Journal by James Briggs, Reporter Date: Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:00am EDT - Last Modified: Friday, June 1, 2012,
Baltimore City officials are unlikely to adopt a panel’s recommendation to mandate local hiring standards for developer Lexington Square Partners in exchange for tax breaks on the proposed $152 million superblock project.
The Baltimore City Planning Commission on May 10 approved a Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, for portions of the superblock, but added a nonbinding “expectation of jobs for city residents,” in the words of Chairman Wilbur Cunningham.
Since then, several top Baltimore officials, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, have expressed support for local hiring initiatives, but stopped short of ...
I looked to find who are driving these tax break requests. These breaks go on for 10-15 years and involve property and rental taxes. This firm is licensed in Georgia, but I see them active in markets up and down the coast. Why are we giving taxes for affluent developments to corporations out of state?
Kingston Commercial Real Estate
Kingston Commercial Real Estate is an Atlanta based Real Estate Brokerage firm that concentrates on office and industrial leasing, acquisition, disposition and property management. Our focus is to provide hands on personal attention to our client's individual needs and to exceed their expectations. With a portfolio of listings in multiple sub-markets, Kingston Commercial is aware of changing market conditions in Atlanta and positioned to provide responsive, quality solutions in a timely manner
Tax breaks sought to build Baltimore west side residential tower Baltimore Business Journal by James Briggs,
Reporter Date: Thursday, April 26, 2012, 11:09am EDT - Last Modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012, 3:46pm EDT The Baltimore Development Corp. is fast-tracking plans for a $20 million, 92-unit residential tower, called Liberty Park, on downtown Baltimore’s west side.
Christopher Harrison and Anthony Waddell last year submitted an unsolicited offer to the BDC to purchase five city-owned properties, as well as the former Health Care for the Homeless building.
The buildings stretch around Liberty and Fayette streets, as well as Park Avenue, steps from the proposed $150 million retail and residential project known as the superblock.
The development team hopes to begin construction on the 14-story project near the First Mariner Arena within a year and a half. But several financial hurdles stand in the way.
That’s why the BDC’s board on Thursday took the unusual step of going behind closed doors to discuss a potential Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, before the agency has even awarded development rights, said BDC President M.J. “Jay” Brodie.
“We’re trying to move ahead because the project is so complicated,” Brodie said. “We’ve gone further in talking to these people and having a board discussion in further detail — like PILOT [and possible city assistance with the mortgage] — than we normally would at this point.”
A PILOT is a deal between the city and a developer for reduced property taxes over a set period of time.
Citing the BDC’s confidentiality policy, Brodie declined to disclose the terms of the Liberty Park PILOT request. The BDC, he added, will make recommendations to the mayor’s office regarding both development rights and the PILOT.
In addition to seeking a PILOT, Brodie said the developers also would pay for the project through a combination of federal low-income housing tax credits, a historic tax credit and equity.
THE ONLY WAY BALTIMORE CITIZENS HEAR OF WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH BUSINESS TAX CREDITS IN BALTIMORE IS WHEN ONE DEVELOPER GETS MAD AT ANOTHER
Developer Hillman criticizes proposed superblock tax break
Baltimore Business Journal Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 11:32am EDT - Last Modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 11:35am EDT
The superblock project is planned to include 300 apartment units and more than 200,000 square feet of retail space. The proposed Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, would grant a team of New York and Atlanta developers, called Lexington Square Partners, a 95 percent property tax waiver for 15 years, followed by five years of incremental tax increases on the apartment and parking portion of the project.
The developers would pay 20 percent of the assessed property taxes in the final year of the PILOT, which would take effect once the project is completed.
Hillman's letter accuses the city of having "a long history of treating developers unequally" and unfairly.
Southern Management owns and operates 2,600 apartments in the city, including almost 2,000 downtown.
Below we see the Baltimore City Council's response to community concerns over corruption and fraud in the business tax program. A task force was formed and nearly all the members of this task force are recipients of these funds or politicians who decide who gets these funds, or groups associated with them.....a closed circle of operators. You saw my concerns over the education/development organizations all coming from the same sources....many being Johns Hopkins affiliates.
Look at the funding for city audits that even the Chair of the committee of Taxes and Budgets, Carl Stokes, admits has been left dormant for decades. It's funding matches that of the tax credits given. The funding for audits includes all city functions...this funding for tax credits is just one request for the year. Budgets for legal administration is very low.
The point is this: if you know you have massive fraud in your system and you know that the citizens of the city want accountability....would you be leveraging the very source of much of the fraud, or leveraging the funds for oversight?
General Fund Appropriation $ 3,898,358
705 Loan and Guarantee Program
Loan and Guarantee Enterprise Fund Appropriation $ 3,313,772
860 Administration - Law
General Fund Appropriation $ 567,623
General Fund Appropriation $ 1,916,989
Special Fund Appropriation $ 11,903
General Fund Appropriation $ 1,236,149
869 Minority and Women's Business Opportunity Office
General Fund Appropriation $ 444,025
Totalling about $4 million
BALTIMORE CITY'S TASK FORCE ON PUBLIC PRIVATE DEVELOPMENT FINANCING EFFORTS October 2011
A Task Force comprised of business, philanthropic, institutional, and community leaders was convened
in January 2011 by Councilman Carl Stokes to review Baltimore’s process for awarding and then
monitoring tax increment financing (TIFs) and Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOTs). At this time of
national economic uncertainty and very limited availability of private capital for development these and
other public capital resources are even more valuable and necessary to support the economic and
neighborhood growth of Baltimore. The committee was also directed to explore whether TIFs and
PILOTs were being committed at the expense of neighborhood priorities.
Working with Baltimore’s Department of Finance, Housing and Community Development and Baltimore
Development Corporation the Task Force found that the city explores various means of supporting
economic development throughout the city and has a process for awarding public financing with stages
in the process for public engagement.
The Task Force concluded that the process could be improved and in this report makes several
recommendations which follow. Among them the city should:
• require a greater and consistent return for all economic concessions and investments;
• carefully and continually measure the economic results and social returns to the community
that are promised by developers and limit the time for developers to begin work;
• enhance the involvement of Planning in the pre‐legislative process to oversee that incentive
programs fit the needs identified in the city’s master plan;
• increase communication with communities and citizens during the process;
• evaluate other creative ways to provide tax incentives;
• implement ways to make transparent all considerations for TIFs and PILOTs;
• increase efforts to find ways to use PILOTS and TIFS for community revitalization, “public good”
projects, and building a larger middle class; and,
• research a way to adjust the formula used to calculate state aid to Baltimore City.
Other topics discussed by the Task Force included providing more or additional incentives to developers
working in “priority” areas in neighborhoods; forming policy to minimize the possibility of favoritism;
and devising a way for small businesses to benefit from similar incentives.
The Task Force realizes and appreciates the role of developers in the physical aspects of community and
economic development. The City’s role is to incentivize economic development goals in a manner which
addresses the priorities of the City.
Baltimore has great potential and the city needs to direct development efforts to fulfilling that potential,
which includes investment downtown and in neighborhoods. The Task Force was unanimous in the
belief there are many development opportunities that will benefit from aggressive market‐driven
public/private partnerships in all corners of the city and that Baltimore must seek out every source of
TASK FORCE MEMBERSHIP
The Task Force held its first meeting on January 11, 2011 with seven subsequent meetings held in
January, February, March, May, and June and one small workgroup meeting.
Wendy Blair, W.L. Blair Development
Calman “Buddy” Zamoiski, Independent Distributors Incorporated
Peter Angelos/Tom Marudas, Law Offices of Peter Angelos
Paul Bernard, Walker & Dunlop
Robert Embry, The Abell Foundation
Andy Frank, Johns Hopkins University
Ronald Kreitner, Westside Renaissance, Inc.
Jody Landers, formerly of the Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors
Linda Loubert, PhD, Morgan State University
Robert Manekin, Colliers International
Jonathan Melnick, Jonathan Melnick Auctioneers
Gary Rodwell, PhD, Coppin Heights Community Development Corporation
Mark Sissman, Healthy Neighborhoods
Mark Wasserman, University of Maryland Medical System
Maria Welch, Respira Medical
Councilman Carl Stokes
Kelley Ray, Legislative Analyst
Carolyn Blakeney, Office of the City Council President
M. Jay Brodie/Irene Van Sant, Baltimore Development Corporation
Paul Graziano, Department of Housing
Steve Kraus, Department of Finance
Tom Stosur, Department of Planning
Colin Tarbert, Office of the Mayor