Baltimore City's $100 Million Secret
Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 09:22 PM EDT
A development deal that is asking for more than a $100 million tax break to build a corporate headquarters for energy giant Exelon is stirring controversy after the board that approved it refused to release any details about it.
Maryland Public Interest Group is one of the many to call into a question a common city practice of granting big tax breaks, known as TIFs, to benefit development projects in Baltimore.
"When you have a tax break like this that's giving millions of dollars to a special interest, you're essentially setting up a slush fund for them to take advantage of," Levin said.
TIF's were originally created to spur growth in blighted areas, but in recent years, that have mostly been used to boost pricey projects on prime real estate.
The latest TIF, recently granted by the Baltimore Development Corporation, gives over a $100 million tax break to allow Exelon to build a corporate headquarters in a piece of waterfront property in Harbor East.
"Powerful special interests - developers that could probably take on these projects on their own," said Levin.
But when Fox45 requested details about the analysis that led to the board's decision under the Maryland Public Information Act, the city responded with a letter saying they "are withholding" that information citing "deliberative process privilege."
Some city leaders say the lack of transparency is wrong. "If BDC did it, then I think taxpayers should be privy to that information. Anything that's done with taxpayer dollars - taxpayers should have that information," Councilman Brandon Scott said.
The city solicitor tells Fox45 that he expects the details behind the tax break will eventually be released before the council takes its final vote on the deal.