Taxpayers have paid nearly $2 billion in federal aid to fund 30,000 public employees in Baltimore at local and federal levels, an audit shows.
Baltimore reportedly has 13,522 employees with a combined payroll that exceeds $821 million annually. The mayor’s office paid $7 million in 2018 for the salaries of 111 employees and $1 million for public relations fees, according to an investigation auditors at OpenTheBooks.com conducted.
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“We found the city drowning in taxpayer dollars,” Open The Books CEO Adam Andrzejewski wrote in an editorial published in Forbes Wednesday.
Baltimore’s schools pay another 10,770 employees with a combined payroll of $619.3 million — $79.1 million spent outside the classroom, $11.4 million spent on psychologists, $16.4 million spent on social workers, $7.4 million spent on counselors, $2.7 million spent on bus drivers and $41.2 million spent on principals and assistant principals, according to the watchdog group.
“Based on our audit, one fact seems clear,” Andrzejewski wrote. “If more money for public employees was the answer, Baltimore’s challenges would have been solved long ago.”
Federal workers in Baltimore amounted to 6,472 people who earned $521.4 million in 2018.
A total of $1.1 billion in grants and direct payments was given to Baltimore city agencies, nonprofit organizations, corporations and colleges from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2018.
“Baltimore has received a lot of federal money over the last five years. The problems in Baltimore is not for lack of money. It’s for lack of leadership,” David Williams of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance told Fox Baltimore.
The number of state employee in Baltimore, which has a population of about 620,000, is not known because Maryland’s comptroller did not disclose work locations to Open The Books.
Comparatively, Milwaukee and Las Vegas — which are similar to Baltimore in terms of geographic size — have less public employees. Milwaukee has 7,871 public employees and Las Vegas has 9,569 workers on payroll including police. Detroit, too, has less than 7,100 public employees.
Baltimore received $5.44 billion worth of federal aid in contracts, grants and other financial assistance for fiscal year 2018, according to USAspending.gov, Fox Baltimore reported Thursday.
Democratic Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district received more than $9 billion in 2018 and more than $15 billion total between 2018 and 2019, according to the outlet.
President Donald Trump came under fire last week for accusing Cummings of not taking care of his district and calling Baltimore the “worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States” in a July 27 tweet.
The president doubled down in a July 29 tweet, writing, “Baltimore’s numbers are the worst in the United States on Crime and the Economy. Billions of dollars have been pumped in over the years, but to no avail. The money was stolen or wasted. Ask Elijah Cummings where it went. He should investigate himself with his Oversight Committee!”
Only one country has a higher per-capita homicide rate than Baltimore, which has 56 homicides per 100,000 people. Honduras has a homicide rate of 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, according to WorldAtlas.
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