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Keeping tabs on the City Council's activities so you don't have to

By Daniel Haggerty | Posted 3/15/2006

On the Council Agenda March 6

Resolution 06-0152R: Informational Hearing: Deregulation—Rate Increases

With electricity deregulation due to expire in July, this resolution invites the Maryland People’s Counsel, the president of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., and the chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission to brief the City Council on the effects of deregulation and the rising costs of electricity to Baltimore consumers.

Public Interest Grade: C+ (A for effort, D for likely impact) Estimates have residents’ monthly electric bills increasing anywhere from 30 percent to 80 percent. Although this resolution is a first step in addressing this escalating concern, the City Council has to take a more active role in protecting the city’s residents from soaring utility costs.

Bill 06-0360: Building and Zoning—Traffic Studies

Individual developers would no longer conduct their own traffic-impact studies. Under this bill, the city Department of Transportation would conduct an independent study for all projects resulting in 50,000-plus square feet of gross floor area, and the developer would bear the costs in advance.

Public Interest Grade: A Great idea. Might actually result in identifying and addressing inevitable traffic and parking problems developers manage to create yet somehow ignore.

Resolution 06-0153R: Determining the Factors Involved in Assignment of “Uniformed Strength” Numbers in Police Districts

Requests that the Baltimore Police Department explain its use of “uniformed strength” staffing procedures implemented throughout the city’s nine police districts.

Public Interest Grade: B Citizens deserve explanations of the theories and rationale used to determine important policy decisions, especially those affecting public safety. Whatever the formula used, however, recent decreases in the number of police officers is a serious concern and the City Council needs to specifically address this troubling trend.

City Council Fact of the Week

This week, Council President Sheila Dixon and Mayor Martin O’Malley announced that the city is projecting a $60 million surplus for fiscal year 2006, which would be the second year in a row the city finished in the black. (Just wait until they get their electric bill.)


Kraft

City Council Quote of the Week

“This is a tragedy waiting to happen.” —Councilman James B. Kraft (D-1st District) on fears related to impending electric utility hikes. The only problem is, this tragedy is not waiting to happen, it’s on its way: Rate hikes take effect in July.

Next City Council meeting: March 20 at 5 p.m.

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