Port Covington Summary
This past May, Sagamore Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Under Armor, announced a plan to work with the city to develop the Port Covington region of Southwest Baltimore. The plan asked for the city to issue over $600 million in TIF bonds, which would essentially be a loan that would be paid back through the hoped-for revenues generated through property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes generated through that new development.
AFT-Maryland and BTU helped form the Build-Up Baltimore Coalition (of which we are a member, as are a number of other labor unions) and the PORT3 Coalition to bring to forefront serious concerns that were not being addressed in this deal. In specific, the original plan waived the city’s fair housing agreement, offered no promises on local hiring and wages for all the jobs in that development area, and threatened to harm state aid to our city’s public schools.
Our coalition testified at numerous city council hearings, and the city council forced Sagamore to negotiate with us as well as the BUILD organization. These negotiations commenced the week of August 29th.
On Wednesday, August 31st, Sagamore made what it called its final offer; the offer included a promise to work towards increasing affordable housing and to not ask for the bonds if the result would harm the base amount of state aid to city schools.
Because their final proposal
- Included a loophole whereby Sagamore could pay a smaller fee if affordable housing was not built,
- Had no agreement that residents of Baltimore City get priority on all jobs (not just new, service sector jobs) in the development, and
- did not promise to hold harmless the amount of state aid dealing with low English proficiency and special education,
our coalition Build-Up Baltimore and PORT3 did not agree to the deal. However, BUILD did.
With respect to education funding, attention now turns to Annapolis; over the next 2-3 years, the state legislature will consider revising the education funding formula, and one element they promise to revisit deal with the impact TIFs have on state aid to city schools.
Mark Your Calendars!
We will go to Annapolis this upcoming session on January 30th to lobby for our school system—Baltimore City cannot take any more cuts in funding to its school system.