Tough decisions face Boston leadership as a $140 million budget shortfall gapes in 2009, Mayor Thomas Menino said last night.’ ‘ ‘ ‘
Menino delivered a somber State of the City annual address Tuesday in Faneuil Hall. After a moment of silence for firefighter Lt. Kevin Kelley, who died Friday when his fire truck crashed in Mission Hill, Menino began. He refrained from announcing new spending, as he has in his past addresses, in order to address how the city of Boston will deal with the recent national financial crisis.
‘We are confronting great economic challenges that Boston did not create, but we will deal with them,’ Menino said in his address. ‘We need courage and urgent action to solve these problems.’
The city’s $140 million budget gap for the 2010 fiscal year, due to a decrease in revenue and an increase in costs, will lead to tough decisions, Menino said.
‘[The shortfall] means cuts in jobs, which causes real pain to real families,’ he said.
To refrain from ‘painful layoffs’ Menino proposed a one-year wage freeze for city workers, which include firefighters and teachers. The plan will be proposed to union leaders in the coming weeks, he said.
While about 50 Boston Public School students and supporters protested budget cuts outside the hall, Menino congratulated BPS for its rise in test scores and eight nationally-recognized high schools. He did not announce what specific reductions the ‘core services’ of public education and public safety would see.
‘We’re looking at severe financial cuts at Boston Latin,’ Boston Latin School junior William Poff-Webster said at the protest. ‘We’re looking at cuts in arts, music and physical education. Boston Public School grads make this city a hub, and we need money to get full, well-rounded educations.’
Former City Council candidate and potential mayoral candidate Kevin McCrea said cuts to education would be crippling to the city.
‘This budget is a scam,’ he said. ‘The state cuts are going to be 60 to 80 million, which is about three percent of the budget. And they want the schools to cut 15 percent?’
BPS Student Representative Mariah Smith said despite possible education cuts, she still has faith in the mayor because of his many years leading the city.
‘I believe in our ability to overcome this, to work together to make the change they need,’ Smith said. ‘Still, we’ve had 16 years of a wicked awesome mayor!’
Boston is still in better shape than other cities of its size, Menino said.’
‘We’ve had the foresight to prepare for the bad times, even when it was deeply unpopular,’ he said. ‘I will not stop fighting for legislation that gives cities the additional tools we need to manage through this crisis and beyond.’