Council to introduce legislation to help boost number of public safety officers living in Baltimore City
Legislation, co-sponsored by Councilman Costello and President Young, would offer housing tax credits to safety officials who reside in Baltimore
BALTIMORE, MD – President Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Chairman Eric T. Costello will introduce legislation at tonight’s City Council meeting that would establish a tax credit program that would provide public safety officers who reside in Baltimore with an annual reduction on their property tax bills.
The 2017 Public Safety Officers Property Tax Credit program would grant full-time, sworn members of the Fire Department, Police Department or Sheriff’s Office a $2,500 annual credit against the real property taxes imposed on their principal residence. To qualify, public safety officials must use the city property as their principal residence.
The legislation is a result of action taken by Mayor Catherine E. Pugh when she was a member of the Maryland General Assembly and Delegate Mary Washington. The pair introduced legislation to allow the city to create the tax credit.
“This tax credit will serve as an important tool in our effort to honor our public safety officers who provide an invaluable service to the people of Baltimore,” said Mayor Pugh. “I specifically want to thank President Young and Councilman Costello for their leadership. I believe the passage of this legislation will encourage this important group to make our City their home.”
Council President Young, long a champion of creating the tax credit, said that it would be a useful retention and recruitment tool.
“Having more of our city’s public safety officials reside in Baltimore makes great sense from a fiscal standpoint, and will go a long way toward building better relationships between officers and the public they’re sworn to serve,” Council President Young said.
Chairman Costello, the bill’s main sponsor, said that he believes the tax credit is smart policy because more public safety employees would spend their paychecks at local grocery stores and eateries throughout Baltimore.
“In addition to having our public safety officers live in our city and making a positive impact on our local economy, this legislation should help grow our city,” said Chairman Costello
And the numbers back up the Chairman’s claims.
Baltimore’s three public safety departments employ a combined 5,233 individuals, but less than 30 percent live in the city. About nine percent of employees live outside the state of Maryland. Bringing a fraction of these individuals to the city as residents could have a profound impact on Baltimore’s budget, said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
“This bill provides another incentive for our police officers to live in the City they serve,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. “The BPD currently offers financial incentives for referrals by current police officers, an education incentive program, and a tuition reimbursement program. This is yet another tool to help fulfill our goals of recruitment and retention, which have enormously expanded over the past two years.”
Sheriff John Anderson said “I am pleased that the City Council is moving to encourage and reward our many Deputy Sheriffs who make a deliberate decision to live in the jurisdiction that they serve. It will only benefit the community to increase the number of law enforcement officers who call Baltimore City their home.”
Fire Chief Niles Ford echoed them and said that many public safety officials want to make the city their home. Introducing a financial incentive would go a long way toward making that goal a reality.
“Any tool we can use to assist our local public safety professionals to live in the City of Baltimore is very much welcomed and appreciated,” Chief Ford said. “The Fire Department is a strong proponent of encouraging our members to become a part of the community in which they serve. This provides many benefits, including allowing our local heroes to be even more accessible to the City’s young people to see firsthand what they can aspire to become.”
To view a copy of the legislation, please visit www.BaltimoreCityCouncil.com
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Information courtesy of Open Baltimore: http://bit.ly/2wK3PAW