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City plan would divert money from Rainy Day, children funds to address coronavirus

The plan comes from City Council President Brandon Scott, who is also a candidate for mayor. It follows an estimate provided last week by city finance officials that the public health pandemic will deliver a $170 million blow to the city budget this year and next.

The plan seeks to use the Rainy Day Fund and the Children and Youth Fund to bolster relief for people whose jobs have been lost and needs have grown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

"This situation is already creating significant financial hardships," Scott said. Latest Baltimore News "Even in the best of times in Baltimore, we are a city of significant needs, and (have) people with hardship who can barely make do in the first place."

Scott seeks to use $25 million from the city's $90 million Rainy Day Fund.

Under the plan, the funding would be dispersed as follows:

$10 million would go to low-interest loans for small businesses. Many small business owners say they're having trouble accessing newly approved federal aid.
$8 million would go to retraining service industry workers for other jobs.
$4 million would go to nonprofits.
$3 million would go for help to the homeless.
Scott also proposes using money allocated for the Children and Youth Fund, which has been plagued by delays, for immediate help to youth.

"In this crisis, understanding what young people are going through throughout the city and figure out how we can help those needs," Scott said.

At his briefing Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Jack Young scolded the City Council for asking for too much at a time of shrinking city revenues.

"Our budget don't (sic) look too good right now in this pandemic, Press Release Distribution Service and we have to be reasonable and not political about this because this a pandemic we have never faced and our budget is drained," Young said.

Also announced Tuesday, all members of the Baltimore City Fire Department are now wearing surgical masks.

A number of steps are now being taken in Baltimore to divert lower priority cases away from the heavily used 911 system and hospitals. The city has implemented a telephone triage system to screen out lower priority calls to 911, and it has contracted with an outside company to help handle what's expected to be a surge of cases later this month.

"Certainly, the timeline has shifted to the end of April toward early May as potential time for surge. I think what's important to note is we are planning for that," Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said.

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