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Hidden Deficit Threatens Baltimore City Finances

Updated: Monday, December 23 2013, 10:06 AM EST

A little known and rarely discussed unfunded liability poses a threat to Baltimore's fiscal health. And it's a debt which is often hard to predict and could worsen in the future.

City officials revealed Friday the city is on the hook for an estimated $146 million in projected unfunded workers compensation claims. That's money for injuries which occur on the job which often lead to extra healthcare costs and compensation for lost wages. 
Finance officials briefed the council on the looming expense at a hearing earlier this month, listing it as one of several fiscal threats that could pose problems for taxpayers down the road.

The project expense adds to a long list of mounting liabilities that could tax city finances in the future, including growing pension costs and future healthcare benefits for retirees.

Still, mayoral spokesman Kevin Harris says Baltimore's workers comp bill is not atypical.

"The size of the deficit is not unusual for a city of Baltimore's size," Harris wrote in an email. "On an annual basis, the City budgets for the projected costs for claims that are expected to be paid during that fiscal year. This is commonly referred to as pay-as-you-go funding, and is typical for risk management fund."

Hidden Deficit Threatens Baltimore City Finances


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