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City Council focuses on fixing deficit

Income generation in Massachusetts took center stage at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, when councilors stressed the importance of Boston’s role as a state leader in budget gap closure.

Councilors centered their discussion on two proposals to help resolve a growing deficit. Proposals included stricter enforcements on vehicles that are illegally registered out-of-state, as well as the allowance of gambling on race tracks in the Greater Boston area.

Councilors Mark Ciommo (Allston, Brighton) and Rob Consalvo (Hyde Park, Roslindale) presented the ordinance having to do with vehicles in Massachusetts that are illegally registered out-of-state.’

‘[It’s an] issue of people who live in the city of Boston but register their cars in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire or somewhere else in order to get cheaper insurance rates and also to avoid paying high excise taxes,’ Consalvo said.

In order to combat the problem, Consalvo said he would like to create a hotline and an online forum for concerned citizens to report illegally registered cars.

‘[It] would allow people online to submit that information anonymously,’ Consalvo said.

If put in place, the money generated from these excise taxes, which are taxes Massachusetts residents who own and register a car are required to pay, could in turn be used to combat Massachusetts’ deficit, councilors said.

‘We’re losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of excise taxes, potentially close to a million dollars,’ Consalvo said.

Councilor Maureen Feeney (Dorchester) said despite possible misconceptions, it’s not just students who aren’t registering their cars.

‘This is money in the bank,’ Feeney said.

Ciommo said this could potentially provide hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time when Boston desperately needs money.

‘ ‘We look forward to implementing this at virtually no cost to the city,’ Ciommo said.

Consalvo also said it’s more than a monetary issue because it is one of fairness.

‘We deserve what we are owed,’ Consalvo said.

Providing another way to generate income, Councilor-At-Large Stephen Murphy presented an order for a hearing that will discuss the possibility of allowing slot machines on race tracks in the Greater Boston area.

Boston would receive a host fee for allowing the slot machines to be put in the race tracks, Murphy told The Daily Free Press after the meeting.

Murphy said if the law is passed, an estimated $300 million in revenue could be generated in Massachusetts with about $30 million entering Boston. He said if it was passed at the state level in April, slot machines could be running in July.

Councilor John Tobin (Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury) said he agreed with Murphy’s proposal and does not see any problem with gambling on race tracks.

‘We should have this. There should be no debate,’ he said. ‘These are race tracks where people are presumably going to gamble, so I see no harm in allowing them [slot machines],’ he said.

Councilor Salvatore LaMattina (East Boston) said he opposed the gambling order, because it is ‘premature,’ citing a potential traffic increase in Boston’s neighborhoods as a drawack.

Councilor-At-Large Sam Yoon ordered a hearing to review the separate recommendations of the Boston Finance Commission regarding Boston’s deficit.

‘The report reveals specific ways to save money and eliminate wasteful spending in our city,’ Yoon said. ‘We need to be talking about this report not just amongst ourselves but outside of city hall with the taxpayers and residents.’

Yoon said the information presented in the report is vital because the Council’s work directly affects the daily lives of Boston’s citizens.

‘This is a type of report we cannot allow to sit on a shelf and gather dust,’ Yoon said.

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One Comment

  1. It’s important that civic minded people read the stenographic machine records of public meetings of our Boston City Council. Prevail upon your favorite Councilor for the stenographic machine records of public meetings.