City legislation aims to invest tax dollars back in local communities

City Council president Bernard C. "Jack" Young introduced legislation at a Nov. 19 council meeting that would require all employers with city contracts and all developers receiving special tax breaks from the city to hire city residents.

The legislation would require the jobs be posted through the Mayor's Office of Employment Development (MOED) and provides for criminal sanctions if the employers don't draw at least 51 percent of their new hires from the city. But there are many exceptions.

The bill applies only to city contracts worth more than $300,000. And developers getting less than $5 million in city help would be exempt. The MOED can also waive the requirement if it finds that the contractor or developer made a "good-faith effort" but failed. Contractors from way out of town are also exempt if "none of the contract work is performed within the Baltimore Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area."

And exemptions will be available for those times when "there are insufficient numbers of Baltimore City residents in the labor market who possess the skills required . . ."

Young's bill is modeled on a Boston ordinance that dates from the mid-1980s.

Bureaucrats there file detailed reports of what percentage of hours were worked on any project by residents, minorities, and women, by construction-job category. They seldom exceed 40 percent.

But Young thinks Baltimore can do better: "We must assure that our tax dollars, in city-funded projects, are invested back in our communities."

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