Monday, April 27, 2009

Mayor's PILOT Committee

I attended the Mayor's PILOT committee at the Copley Library tonight. As usual the Mayor's appointed commission didn't look like our 50% minority city, there were five whites at the head table running the show.

A number of speakers including Sam Tyler of the Municipal Research Bureau spoke about how it would be nice if the meetings were open to the public. The chair of the committee appointed by the Mayor indicated that they don't believe their task force is a governmental body.

I testified about how the City should not give permits to institutions who are on the one hand saying they don't have any money to give to the City and on the other hand are building new buildings, dorms and stadiums. (Hello Harvard, BC, Northeastern, etc.)

Northeastern University gave $15,879 to the City last year, down from $141,133 a couple of years ago. But, they are still building a nice high rise on Tremont Street that exceeds the zoning limit. Maybe it is a good idea to give an honorary degree to BRA honchos!

Wentworth which is proposing two towers on Huntington Avenue paid $39,451 in PILOT payments last year. I spoke with Sandy Pascal from Wentworth after the meeting who indicated that they were planning on giving a 99 year lease for their property to a commercial developer to build the buildings and she promised that they would pay the full amount of the commercial value of the buildings. The proof will be in the pudding.

The BRA used to give money but they don't anymore, what a surprise.

Of better news is BU giving 4.7 million dollars and Harvard giving 2 million dollars. BC only $287,000.

I had a nice talk with Sam Tyler of the MRB who I have quoted and used their numbers before. He explained further how the City of Boston budget is unsustainable because of the high numbers of employees, all receiving benefits.

Finally, when I got home I had the Mayor's press release that he had sent out before the meeting was even over! It said: "the PILOT Task Force recently held a public hearing at the Copley branch of the Boston Public Library. " He ends the press release with the following: "I’m confident that with public input and strong leadership from the PILOT Task Force, we will arrive at a system that works best for the taxpayers and nonprofit institutions, and most importantly strengthens investments in our communities."

I'm confident that if he sends out press releases about how important public input is to a meeting before the public input is even done that he isn't going to make the PILOT system any more equitable than he has in his first 16 years as Mayor, and he certainly isn't going to listen to public input. The members of the committee are made up of Universities, Hospitals, the Business Community, the head of the Police Union, Steve Murphy, and the head of a CDC that is dependent on the Mayor for funding. Notice what is missing??? Any J. Q. Public. When a member of the audience asked why the panel didn't have any discussions, Steve Murphy explained that he didn't think he needed to because if he had any questions he could call people up on the phone later. Exactly! Why have discussions in public where the public might be interested in points of view when you can discuss it behind closed doors or over the phone later.

No comments: