Budget cuts will force Baltimore City pools to close early this year due to an unprecedented fiscal crisis caused by declining revenue and increased costs. During the record- breaking heat wave that hit the city in July, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake opted to extend pool hours to help residents stay cool. As of today Baltimoreans will have to find other ways to beat the heat.
When the season started this year, city officials knew that it would be a short one when the Department of Finance released the city’s preliminary budget which called for cuts to the fire and police departments, street repair and resurfacing, as well as recreation centers and pools.
In March, the mayor called some of the cuts unacceptable and said they went too far. “We didn’t create this problem but we have to solve it,” she said in a released statement about the $121 million budget deficit.
According to the mayor’s office, new revenue generated from sources like the beverage container fee helped to balance this year’s budget and maintain the City’s funding obligations to public schools, police officers and some fire companies. About $5 million was approved to keep recreation centers open throughout the summer and $719,000 was approved to keep pools open, but only for six weeks.
The Callowhill, Cherry Hill and Chick Webb indoor pools will remain open until the end of the summer for the estimated 2,000 people that use the public pools each day. A representative from the Department of Parks and Recreation could not confirm if they will maintain the schedule from previous years of keeping those indoor pools open year round.