Current Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young faces criticism for his plans to add extra staffing positions to the council president’s office. (Courtesy photo)

By Stephen Janis
Special to the AFRO

A plan to expand the staffing of the council president’s office has come under scrutiny for being ill-timed for a city struggling under budget constraints the result of the pandemic. 

Current Mayor Jack Young is seeking to add roughly nine new positions to the office, at a cost of $767,000, according to the Baltimore Brew.  The new jobs would increase the staffing in the office from roughly 27 to 36, the Brew reported. 

The move has been controversial, as the city is facing a budget shortfall and has instituted a hiring freeze throughout a number of city agencies in response to falling revenue due to the pandemic.

The expansion also comes as city hall prepares for a major transition of leadership at key positions, including council president and the Mayor’s office.

The current occupant and Mayor-elect Brandon Scott has publicly criticized the additional staffing arguing that any changes to the composition of the office should wait until he is sworn as Mayor on Dec. 20.  

However, current Mayor Jack Young who has publicly defended the plan, told the AFRO he would not elaborate further.

“I already said what I needed to say and I’m finished with it.”

Newly elected City Council President Nick Mosby, who would benefit from the additional staffing, did not reply to a request for comment.  

The council president’s office plays a key role in managing the city’s legislative body, the city council.  Key committee assignments, new laws, and the city’s $2.9 billion budget all pass through the President’s office before being approved by the council. 

The president also serves as a voting member of the city’s spending body the Board of Estimates, which approves all city contracts in excess of $25,000.

But the president’s office is also viewed as a critical spot from which to challenge mayoral authority, and also to launch the careers of aspirants to the city’s top job.  

Current Mayor Jack Young, former Mayor Stephanie Rawlins-Blake, and former Mayor Sheila Dixon all served as president of the council before becoming mayor. Only former Mayor Catherine Pugh bypassed what is often seen as a critical rite of passage for the city’s top job.