23 Aug 2014
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Mayor Introduces Bottle Tax Hike

The Better Schools Initiative is Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake' plan to leverage $300 million in bonds for schools.

Mayor Introduces Bottle Tax Hike

UPDATED (8 p.m.)—On Monday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake introduced controversial legislation to raise the “bottle tax” to 5 cents to the Baltimore City Council.

Rawlings-Blake announced her intention to raise the tax from its current 2-cents when she for the Better School Initiative in November. The tax increase is part of a package to leverage $300 million in bonds for school construction and renovation.

The mayor’s school construction initiative also depends on $1.7 million annually—about 10 percent of estimated revenues—from a Video Lottery Terminal facility that has yet to be built. The city will also continue to contribute $17 million in bond proceeds annually, according to a news release.  

The ACLU of Maryland has estimated that it will take $2.8 billion in renovations and new school construction to bring city schools up to par. Baltimore City has the oldest school facilities in the state.

During the hearing Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, chair of the council's Education Committee, said the amount of deferred maintenance and new school construction was intimidating. 

"It is a high, high mountain to up to $2.8 billion," Clarke said.

Councilman Carl Stokes, who represents parts of Charles Village and Remington, said he would be keeping is vote on the bill close to his chest. Stokes, the chairman of the Taxation, Finance and Economic Development Committee, said he expected the bills to get a hearing in his committee in late April or early May. 

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