BRAC may have minimal impact on Baltimore
Mayor looking for ways to draw more military personnel into city
But one of the state’s leading economists says Charm City could attract few of the people who will be moving to the state because of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
‘‘I don’t know that BRAC will fundamentally alter the city’s fiscal situation and it’s underlying economic circumstance,” said Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of the Sage Policy Group Inc. of Baltimore.
‘‘It will certainly help. Some of the households will end up in Baltimore city. Some of the jobs will end up in Baltimore city. But I don’t believe it will be to the magnitude to improve the Baltimore city landscape,” he said.
The state expects 45,000 to 60,000 new jobs to move into Maryland. Add in the families, and the total population growth from BRAC will be on the order of 28,000 families. Estimates put 2,500 new households in Baltimore city.
The new arrivals are expected to begin showing up in 12 to 18 months and will continue through 2018. In addition to the military jobs, defense contractors are expected to relocate to Maryland as well.
The jobs are expected to be high-wage positions, mostly going to Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County and the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County.
Basu said he expects most of the people moving to Maryland to choose to live close to the bases to reduce their commuting time.
But some of Baltimore’s southern neighborhoods are about 25 minutes from Fort Meade, said Andrew Frank, the city’s deputy mayor for neighborhood and economic development.
Aberdeen Proving Ground is about 40 minutes from the city.
Frank said the city is trying to attract people with ‘‘the urban gene” who would want to live in Baltimore and commute to the bases.
An addition of 2,500 households to the city is significant, considering the city’s population has been declining, Frank said.
‘‘That is an opportunity that we need to capitalize on,” Frank said. ‘‘If we’re smart about our marketing ... we will be able to attract far more than the 2,500.”
Those new households could mean millions in terms of tax revenues. Although the new jobs are in neighboring jurisdictions, the people filling those jobs would pay its piggyback income tax to the jurisdiction where they live. Baltimore’s operating budget is about $1.4 billion.
Dixon’s ‘‘BRACtion” plan includes highway upgrades, MARC service expansion to Aberdeen and new neighborhoods. It also includes building relationships with Defense Department agencies and contractors and providing job placement services to BRAC spouses.
Brown was on hand at City Hall to receive the mayor’s ‘‘BRACtion” plan as part of his job coordinating the state’s BRAC efforts.
‘‘Maryland is ready. We’re already building the infrastructure to succeed,” the lieutenant governor said.
Basu said the surrounding jurisdictions would be pleased if BRAC families flock to Baltimore.
‘‘There’s no appetite to accommodate new residents, particularly those that need rental housing,” he said.
The city already has the capacity to handle new homes, Frank said.
‘‘We can accommodate 10,000 people in the ‘Middle Branch’ of Baltimore city without adding one new road and one new bridge,” he said.