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Comptroller Bill Henry is introducing these bills to modernize his office

Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry is introducing legislation that will create a public database of real estate records, among other City code changes.

Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry. (Photo via Friends of Bill Henry/Facebook)

Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry is proposing his first pieces of new legislation since taking office late last year. The package of proposals are centered around modernizing the city’s fiscal office, including one that would replace a requirement to maintain a book of property records with a databases

The bills, which were introduced at Monday’s Baltimore City Council meeting, are the first updates to City code by the comptroller’s office in decades, according to Henry’s team.

The legislation comes after Henry talked about the need to bring digital tools and updated processes to the office soon after he was inaugurated in December. In January, his team released a transition report with more than 60 recommendations for doing so.

“My office has spent the past few months reviewing every corner of City Code that touches the Comptroller’s office. These bills are just the start of a sizable code reform effort I’ll be pursuing over the next few months,” Henry, who was a city councilmember prior to being elected comptroller, said in a statement.

Here’s a look at the areas of city government that the bills are addressing, and the changes they are looking to make:

Board of Estimates

The Board of Estimates makes final decisions on city spending, and is made up of the mayor, comptroller, city council president and two mayoral appointees . This measure would assign clerk duties to a Comptroller’s designee, and require that clerk to coordinate the board’s reports. It would also codify a 2010 Board resolution that sets procurement thresholds for expenditures over $50,000 and contracts over $25,000, per the comptroller’s office.

Real estate records

This would repeal a provision stating the Comptroller’s office has to maintain “a well-bound book of real property records,” and replace it with a database. It also repeals a provision mandating a public inspection process, and replaces it with a public online posting. It would become effective six months after passing.

Committee on Insurance and Risk Management

This would strengthen the City’s Committee on Insurance and Risk Management by creating reporting requirements, restructuring the board, and providing effective oversight.

Retirement boards

This legislation would allow the Comptroller or a designee to serve on the City’s Fire and Police Employees’ Retirement System board and the Retirement Plan Savings Board.

Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.
Companies: Baltimore City Council

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