Sam Yoon is holding an Oversight Committee hearing this evening in Codman Square looking for ways to save money in the budget. I am going to the hearing and applaud Sam for holding the hearing. The funny thing however is that nearly all of the items I will put forth, have already been put forth before and Sam, Michael Flaherty and of course the Mayor have done nothing about these for years. My suggestions:
218 West Springfield Street
Boston, MA 02118
March 30, 2009
1) Change municipal health plan. The Boston Municipal Research Bureau estimates we could save $25 million a year by switching to the State Plan.
a. Eliminate city capital funding to the BRA in the yearly budget. The BRA
is self funded and does not need payments from the City of Boston
until they become transparent and answer all questions from the city council and the citizens about what that money is for. The BRA is not
laying off workers, while the City of Boston is laying off teachers.
b. Eliminate Chapter 121A tax breaks for all projects that are not for affordable housing in blighted areas, such as One Beacon Street. The City of Boston loses approximately 5 million dollars a year in real estate taxes on this single building. Examine two dozen other 121A’s such as New Boston Market and Post Office Square.
c. Take back any City owned properties that have been given to the BRA without compensation such as Hayward Place, City Hall Plaza, and the $2.4 million land given in Dorchester for the Salavation Army. These three properties are worth at least 300 million dollars.
d. Take back revenue streams that the BRA has taken from the City of Boston, such as the leasing of “air rights” at the Ames Building, Winthrop Square Garage, the leasing of Yawkey Way to the RedSox (this street is paid for by the citizens of Boston, why does the BRA get the revenue?)
e. Charge the BRA money for its office space such as at City Hall.
f. Tax land that the BRA has, after getting it properly assessed, especially income producing properties.
a. We need to require consistent payments from our non-profit partners in the city, especially the hospitals and universities. The target is one quarter of what they would otherwise pay if the land was not tax free. We need to examine whether uses such as parking garages and restaurants should be exempted as well. Institutions should not be able to expand without negotiating proper PILOT payments, especially if city land or zoning exemptions are part of that expansion.
4) Increase the Financial Commission budget so that they can identify where money
is being wasted and/or contracts are not being honored or performed correctly.
a) Currently the DPW is reactive not proactive. We need to have a long term
plan on when streets are going to be repaved. This allows homeowners, utilities and businesses to plan ahead to upgrade their use requirements. This will mean fewer street cuts, better roads with less maintenance, saving money.
b) Subcontracted street cleaners should not be hired to clean streets where the cars have not been required to move. The middle of the streets are not dirty, the edges are what needs to be cleaned.
6) Park and Neighborhood signs-As Mitt Romney identified when he was Governor,
putting politician names on street and park signs is a waste of taxpayer money. We need to stop this practice permanently.
7) Eliminate no bid contracts. Competition will help reduce costs
8) Change the law back to putting the city council central staff at 12 people. We no longer require a $70,000 job to figure ways the city council can avoid the open meeting law.
9) Eliminate the city council practice of giving bonuses to employees, changing their pay rate “at reappointment time” for one week and doubling their salaries.
10) Pension reform. Eliminate “one day one year” practice which allows situations as Paul Walkowski where someone can work less than 2 years and receive 3 years pension reward. Eliminate provisions for higher pension pay when filling in for higher grade employees.
11) Publish online all expenses and income, city contracts, etc. so that all the citizens can examine our finances for further savings.
12) Sell all surplus property owned by the City of Boston. This will add money to the general fund to pay for teachers, schools, etc.
13) Use financial tools such as auditing and zero based budgeting to identify cost savings, such as the Boston Fire Department with their well publicized call box Division and maintenance issues.
14) Change the Boston election cycle so that the Mayoral election is held in the same year as the presidential election. This will halve the cost of elections and increase voter participation.
15) Strengthen Public Records Laws and Open Meeting Laws so that councilors, citizens, unions, etc. can make informed decisions about our City budget.