In order to double its district safety patrol and step up its crime prevention strategies over the next five years, the board of directors of the Midtown Community Benefits District is proposing a property surtax rate increase from .00132% to .00182% of taxable assessment for its 2013 budget year. For the average property in the district, this will mean an increase of $125 per year, or about 34 cents a day. The last rate change for Midtown was approximately 14 years ago.
"Surtax income for Midtown has declined since the introduction of the Homestead and other tax credits and due to drops in district property values," explains Jason Curtis, chairman of Midtown's board of directors. "However, the need for safety patrol and safety cameras continues to increase, and we must keep pace with current demand. The District deserves no less. Asking for a rate increase now will help us keep Midtown's future stabilized as a vibrant, safe, clean and green place to live, work, do business, recreate, and thrive."
Midtown's 2010 Strategic Plan makes safety a top priority, and the rate increase will help fulfill this goal. The District's current Segway patrols would increase from two-to-three nights per week to six-to-seven nights per week, and in the future, expand to daytime patrols. Midtown's Segway patrol, in operation for three years, includes off-duty Baltimore City police officers on Segway vehicles. The surtax increase would not only allow Midtown to expand the number of officers on patrol both day and night, but also help purchase and monitor a network of safety cameras that will be linked to the Baltimore City CitiWatch monitoring center. The rate increase would also allow Midtown to set up emergency call boxes and other safety technology.
Grant from the Abel Foundation and from the state of Maryland will fund the initial phase of a state-of-the art camera program for the Charles Street corridor, and Baltimore City has committed to installing cameras across North Avenue. After cameras have been installed along the Charles Street corridor, the next phase is to install safety cameras in the Madison Avenue and Eutaw Place corridor. Future phases also will include safety cameras in Bolton Hill, Charles North, and Mount Vernon, with a goal of eventually covering the entire 175 block area of Midtown. The rate increase would be dedicated to these expansion efforts.
Members of the Midtown Safety Committee plan to meet with each neighborhood association that makes up the District to discuss the need for the rate increase and to solicit feedback and input. A public discussion on the proposed rate increase and other Midtown safety, clean and green strategies, will take place at the District's annual Spring Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, March 28, at 7:00pm at the University of Baltimore's Thumel Business Center Auditorium, 11 West Mount Royal Avenue.
Midtown residents and property owners are encouraged to attend this important meeting. The meeting is open to the public, and all are welcome.
A copy of the proposed District budget for FY2013 is posted on www.MidtownBaltimore.org under the Benefits District tab, and a copy may be obtained by emailing email@example.com or calling 410 528-1512.