Baltimore, MD – After approval of a lease agreement and parking agreement moving the Baltimore Police Department’s training facility to the University of Baltimore, Councilman Bill Henry, who is a candidate for Baltimore City Comptroller, issued the following statement:
“In 2015, I co-sponsored then-Councilman Mosby’s resolution for a study on moving Baltimore Police Department’s training facility to Coppin State University, which has an excellent criminal justice program, and as a West Baltimore HBCU should be a key engine for equitable economic growth in Baltimore.
This morning the Board of Estimates approved a lease agreement that was initiated by the past administration to move the facility instead to the University of Baltimore.
City taxpayers will pay $2.5 million to renovate the UB facility and $7.2 million in rent over 5 years. Taxpayers will also pay more than $200,000 for parking.
The reason provided is that the consent decree mandates moving to a new facility immediately, and no other location in the City is apparently suitable.
Here’s what I would have done as Comptroller.
First, I would have taken on the feasibility study that the City Council asked for four years ago. As an independent elected official devoted to oversight and accountability, the Comptroller’s office is well-suited to providing this kind of analysis where it is needed.
Second, as chair of the body which approves these leases before they go to the Board of Estimates, I would have withheld my approval of the lease until being provided with the administration’s rationale for rejecting other city-owned properties and private facilities like those at Coppin. I would have provided this analysis to the public.
Perhaps the UB facility truly is the best possible way to meet the consent decree’s immediate requirements. However, the public deserves to see the details. Unfortunately, we will never know whether a better solution would have been possible now had due diligence been done in 2015 as the Council advised.
Today the BOE asked Baltimore City residents to again accept the inertia of past missed opportunities. This is why open, transparent, and accountable government is central to Baltimore moving forward.
As your next Baltimore City Comptroller, my job will be to speak up for the public interest early and often, because we’re going to have to change the way we make decisions if we expect to see better results anytime soon.”
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About Councilman Bill Henry. Bill Henry is a community development professional with over 20 years of experience in urban policy. In 12 years on the City Council, Bill has championed efforts that hold government accountable, empower communities, and grow the tax base. Bill believes we need a City Comptroller who will provide thorough, independent oversight of the City’s fiscal and policy affairs. As Comptroller, Bill will protect the public interest through the office’s crucial roles in budgeting, auditing, and managing the City’s real estate.