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Ramos Introduces Bill To Make City Publish Report On Tax Sale Payment Problems

Baltimore City Hall. On Monday night, city lawmakers held a virtual meeting.

City Councilwoman Odette Ramos wants Baltimore’s finance office to tally up the problems with the city’s annual tax sale.

She introduced a bill at Monday night’s council meeting that would require finance officials to publish an extensive report on problems with the system. For years, city housing advocates and those who have landed on the tax sale have said a host of problems afflicts the process, from property tax checks the city cashed but never marked as paid to the city failing to notify those on the list.

“These are actually problems that have been around for a long time, so we're asking that they give us a plan and hope that they get fixed before the next tax sale,” Ramos said.

The freshman Democrat’s bill would require the Department of Finance and the City Administrator's office to publish a report within 120 days after enactment. Council President Nick Mosby assigned the bill to the Ways and Means Committee.

In other action, Councilman James Torrence introduced a resolution to hold a hearing on a union effort underway at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood, where employees are working with AFSCME Council 67. The resolution calls for representatives from the local employees union, City Solicitor Jim Shea and the Department of Human Resources to appear before the Education, Workforce and Youth Committee to discuss the feasibility of city museum workers organizing.

The city provides about $6 million of the art museum’s funding each year.

“We should understand how employees are treated, but also understand how we can govern as well as have accountability at the Walters,” Torrence, a Democrat, said.

Two prominent bills moved from second to third reader.

Councilman Mark Conway’s legislation to divest city retirement funds away from fossil fuel companies passed, as did an effort from Councilman Kristerfer Burnett to mandate that the Department of Public Works publish a report on whether an ongoing reimbursement program for property damage from wet weather sewage backup can be expanded to reimburse damage from all types of sewage backup.

The council will not meet again until July 19, following a summer recess.

Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.