During tough financial times the Boston City Council is responsible for maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for its constituents, as well as finding creative ways to make revenue. As President of the City Council, I have an even greater responsibility to the people of Boston to ensure that this is being done.
The overarching issue for this upcoming year is a singular one: the national economic crisis. There will be even less revenue available from Washington, D.C. and from our partners on Beacon Hill. As we face this shortfall in resources from outside sources, the non-programmatic portion of our budget continues to expand rapidly. This includes health care, pensions and debt services, which have grown at five times the rate of the city’s operating budget.
As a City Councilor At-Large, my constituency is all of the people of Boston. I am obligated to address the totality of services and activities and to achieve economies eclectically to afford the greatest protection to the greatest number of people. I will continue to do my best in tough economic times to continue my duty to serve the public interest, and to make certain that we thoughtfully and carefully work with labor leaders, department heads, and other stakeholders to ensure that whatever priorities we adhere to and whatever budget we pass, reflect the needs of this city as a whole, not any one segment.
As a City Councilor, I have been the leader on many important issues facing the city. I was the lead sponsor on Criminal Offender Record Information (C.O.R.I.) reform, which has since been taken up at the State House and has had significant changes implemented at the state level. I was also the impetus behind the much needed changes to the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (P.I.L.O.T) program. For over five years I have pushed for changes to the program citing the need for tax fairness. The result was the Mayor’s Task Force on P.I.L.O.T. reform. The Task Force worked diligently on balancing the need for tax fairness while recognizing the benefits non-profits bring to the city. As a result, the TaskForce made recommendations that are changing the P.I.L.O.T. program and will bring an additional $25 million to the City.
Other important issues I have spearheaded are the Groundwater Overlay District implementation, installation and implementation of countdown crosswalks, and installation of proper smoke detector technology for use in homes. I also worked tirelessly on the City's budget and issues regarding public safety, labor, elderly and education. Despite these challenging economic times, we cannot compromise the quality of life in the great City of Boston.
I will continue my efforts to further improve our economic climate so as to provide more and better paying jobs. I will keep working to make our streets in every neighborhood as safe as they can and should be. I will work hard in this tough economy to give every Boston Public School student the tools they need to build a future for themselves. I will carry on caring for our elderly, who built this city, and allow them the highest caliber quality of life in their golden years. No one person can do this alone. I need the help of my City Council colleagues to achieve success in all of these endeavors.
I do not think it is beyond the capacity of this City Council to achieve this. We have done it before. For the last several years we have faced similar down economy budgets, and we have continued to meet the needs of all the people of Boston. And as President, entrusted to lead this capable body, I will do my best to ensure that we continue to meet these needs.