City Council in 60 Seconds: Council Approves Tax Exemption for Seniors
At Wednesday's meeting the Boston City Council increased the residential tax exemption for the city's seniors and discussed a new food truck ordinance.
At Wednesday's meeting the Boston City Council voted unanimously to pass an increase in the residential tax exemption for the city's elderly.
"This will increase the exemption for our elderly from $500 to $750, which hasn't been raised in quite a number of years," said Ways and Means Committee chair and district nine Councilor Mark Ciommo.
The change will help to alleviate the burden on the many elderly city residents living on a fixed income budget, said at-large Councilor Stephen Murphy.
In addition, the Council voted to approve the residential tax exemption for fiscal year 2011. The exemption will remain at a value equal to 30 percent of the average assessed value of all residential parcels in the City of Boston.
Bonds Approved for Project at 800 Huntington
Councilors voted unanimously to pass an order approving the issuance of tax exempt bonds, not to exceed $55 million, for the construction of a new office and research facility at 800 Huntington Ave. in Mission Hill.
The tax exempt bonds will be issued by the Boston Industrial Development Financing Authority. The site is being developed by The Beal Companies, a real estate firm located on Milk St.
"This particular building is a dilapidated building," said the Economic Development and Planning Committee chair and District 2 Councilor Bill Linehan.
"This will provide over 150 construction jobs if this is passed," said Linehan. He added that about 50 new jobs would be created following the completion of the project.
"They think they can have a shovel in the ground as early as next year," Linehan said.
The Food Truck is Coming to Town
District 8 Councilor Mike Ross and District 1 Councilor Salvatore LaMattina proposed an ordinance that would regulate and promote the food truck industry in Boston.
City Council President Mike Ross said the proposed ordinance would bring "new industry to the City of Boston during a down economy."
He added, "This is a very important business that could put dozens if not hundreds of people to work."
Ross pointed out a particular demand for food trucks in areas that are underserved by restaurants, like the Boston Herald offices in the South End, where access to nearby eateries is limited.
But Ross assured the Council that the trucks aren't meant to take business away from existing restaurants. "We wouldn't park a cupcake truck in front of a cupcake store," Ross said. "These are mobile trucks, they're meant to travel throughout the city."
"I'm excited about this," said Councilor LaMattina. "I look at Charlestown, I look at SoWa… It's a good opportunity at Downtown Crossing."
Ross said he wants the ordinance to come before the council for a vote before the end of the year so that Boston can learn from the mistakes of other cities that failed to regulate the industry soon enough.
"L.A. failed to regulate the industry as the industry was already starting to grow," warned Ross as he urged the Council to take swift action on the ordinance.
"We have tried to create a law that's not onerous, it's not burdensome and it's embracing of this new industry," Ross said.
In Other Action at Wednesday's Meeting:
- The City Council officially recognized Janet Palmer-Owens for more than 40 years of service to Boston Public Schools. Palmer-Owens recently retired from her position as chief academic officer for Boston's 135 public schools. "I just want to say thank you very much. It's so strange to be here when I'm not testifying before the budget committee," Palmer-Owens said.
- The Council authorized the Police Commissioner to accept a grant for $1.65 million from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety for the purposes of supporting strategies to prevent youth, gang and gun violence.
- The Council voted unanimously to authorize the city to accept and expend a $5 million grant from NStar to promote energy efficiency and energy savings in public buildings and infrastructure projects. Included in the budget are HVAC upgrades at City Hall and a program that will take out the most inefficient street lights in the city and replace them with LED lights. The money is coming out of the city's Energy Conservation Fund.