Otis F. Rolley was Baltimore City’s Director of Planning from 2003 to 2007.
“Under this Mayor, Baltimore taxpayers are being asked to pay more for fewer services. I believe we can reduce spending without sacrificing essential services by increase efficiency, setting real goals and holding government employees responsible for results. Doing so will allow us to make investments in our children, neighborhoods and job growth.
As Mayor, I would launch an overhaul of city government to make it more accountable, more efficient, and more accessible to its citizens. My plan would institute greater oversight over every department within City Hall, including increased auditing and performance-based reviews. Increasing oversight will immediately reveal which programs are working and which are wasting taxpayers’ money. As Mayor, I will:
- Institute performance based budgeting to ensure that promises made and paid for are kept;
- Coordinate purchasing across government by bundling smaller contracts for common necessities;
- Increase competitively bid contracts of $25,000 or more; and
- Provide financial incentives to workers for proposing cost-savings.
These changes, along with others, will streamline how the government does business and root out wasteful spending, allowing of us to reinvest in our children and neighborhoods. I believe the biggest blow the Mayor’s budget made was to our children and their communities. Instead of investing in Baltimore’s neighborhoods, she chose to cut programs and services middle-class families rely on, including pools, rec centers, and after school programs. Her shortsighted cuts will inevitably result in higher crime, poorer graduation rates, and a continued population decline – none of which Baltimore can afford. If elected Mayor, I would restore funding to these important programs and services to ensure Baltimore’s children have positive, constructive activities.”
“I would do three things:
– I would cut taxes for every homeowner, to reduce Baltimore’s highest-in-the-state property tax rate, and make it more affordable to live here.
– I would target and penalize absentee and negligent landlords who leave our neighborhoods scarred with blight and too often havens for crime; and
– I would move quickly to transform city-owned properties into new development — not just homes, but also open space and parks because open space is important to a neighborhood’s strength.”
Residency for City Workers:
“Otis believes that it is critical that the people who serve our citizens should live among them — which is why, when he is Mayor, all new employees, and promoted employees will have to be City residents. Not only does it make for stronger neighborhoods, it will improve the level and quality of services delivered to everyone who lives, works or visits Baltimore.”
Lead Paint Settlements:
As Mayor, I would take a single, concrete step: I would make the Housing Authority pay the judgments. We would work with their attorneys to negotiate a payment plan or settlement agreement to meet our obligations without hurting our ability to provide quality public housing. It is outrageous that the current Mayor has refused to pay these judgments at the same time she is able to find funding for things like a downtown car race. We waste money on a deputy mayors with undefined roles, but the Mayor says there is no bloat in a city government with a $2.8 billion budget — and still we can’t afford to meet our obligations according to her. We can, should and must pay them — and as Mayor I will.
My top priority will be reversing our decades long population loss. This continued flight is preventable: we know that people want to live here, but do not feel they can – either because of the crime, underperforming schools or highest-in-the-state property taxes. That’s why I am proud to be the only candidate for Mayor to have proposed a real plan to cut property taxes for every homeowner — and 50% for most — without raising other taxes.
As Mayor, I will move to reduce the cost of living in the city by cutting property taxes by as much as 50% for homeowners and target negligent and absentee landlords who cause the blight in our neighborhoods.
The Mayor is fond of saying we “can’t” cut property taxes, but that is only true if we continue to do things the same way we have been — with little oversight and no accountability. I will reduce property taxes and improve government services not because I can, but because we must if we want to halt Baltimore’s population loss.
The Red Line:
As past president and chief executive officer of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, I led a coalition of area business, civic, environmental, and philanthropic leaders dedicated to improving and expanding transit and transportation options for the people of Central Maryland. While at the CMTA, I built support for the Red Line, and I believe still believe in its merits.
Not only will the Red Line make travel in heavily congested corridors easier, faster, and more affordable, it will create Baltimore’s first comprehensive transit system. The Red Line will ease transportation within our city, providing an important incentive for those looking to make Baltimore their home. The Red Line represents one of the most exciting projects Baltimore has had in decades, and we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines while other cities advance past us.
That said, there was a long and thoughtful process that went into the creation of the community compact. If this project is not constructed in a way that is responsive and respectful of the communities serviced by the Red Line, the project will not proceed.
Although I stand behind transportation innovation like the Red Line, I don’t believe Baltimore needs a dramatic overhaul of its public transportation system; instead, I would advocate for modernization of existing systems. We should ease the use of public transportation systems by focusing on customer service and ensuring that our existing systems keep pace with changing times. One simple change I would advocate for would be improvements to the MTA’s Web site. For a visitor or new resident who is trying to get from Point A to Point B, the MTA Web site is a point of frustration; the maps are unreadable, outdated, or incorrect. As Mayor, I would work with transportation officials to improve the MTA experience to offer better service to Baltimore’s residents, commuters, and visitors.