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City Council approves bid for property-tax surcharge to fund housing, parks

The Boston City Council today approved a measure that will ask voters in November to add a 1% surcharge to annual property-tax bills for a fund to pay for more housing for seniors, veterans and low-income residents and for improvements to and expansions of city parks and open space.

The proposed Community Preservation Act measure now goes to Mayor Walsh, who recently said he supports the measure.

Officials estimate the measure would bring in $16.5 million a year.

Only City Councilor Bill Linehan (South Boston, South End, Chinatown) voted against the idea. "I believe we as a city rely too much on property tax for our revenue," he said.

He also objected to the "anomaly" of letting voters, rather than elected officials, make decisions on tax issues.

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the CPA is well thought out and would really help our city

I just thought I'd put that out there before the trolls start in

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have been issued to ball-players at Fenway for chewing tobacco so far this year?

I passed about 5 double parked vehicles en route to work this morning downtown. No tickets written.

Yet you wanna raise MY property tax?
GTFO!!!

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If this passes, the money will go towards dedicated causes, like parkland and affordable housing. The can ticket every single double parked car in Southie and the money will not help the city the way the CPA will.

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all of it gets wasted/stolen anyways. Our job as citizens is to oppose every hike in taxes while screaming for efficinency and voting out the incumbants every few years. Their job is to actually legislate and work a budget, instead of devoting time to which trinkets to outlaw and which homophobic cities and states hundreds of miles away they shouldn't be visiting.
My point is there is tons of monney on the table, but they continually go after residents/property owners with their hands out.
-Write tickets for law-breakers
-Impose (heavier) fines on business skirting the law
-Sell real estate owned by the city for what it's worth (Winthrop Sq?)
-Rent public space to push-cart vendors/artists/performers
-Staff your own municipal parking lots instead of paying mgmt companies to STEAL from you rampantly
-Increase "In Lieu of" payments from Universities currently taking the city over and paying NO TAX
-Stop giving crooked corporations tax breaks we will see little/no benefit from. On that note, MAKE GE CLEAN UP A PARK OR TWO.
-Raise tax on luxury/vice items. Things people can choose/not choose to purchase.

If voters vote yes on this it sets a precedent that the council will go back to again and again and again.

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How is it a wise idea to add other surcharge which will for all intents and purposes will disappear into the BRA 'affordable housing' slush fund?

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After they just voted themselves a raise????? When the BPS budget is a disaster????? No way! Trim some of the fat and you'll save tons. Walsh throws cash around like he prints it, so tax butts or sports teams or find a way to get these non-tax paying universities to pony up the dough. Nope!

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What a waste....I am completely against this proposal and not because it's an increase in taxes, but rather that $16.5m divided between five different priorities--when it was originally solely to support parks around Boston will yield NOTHING.

Also, not to be harsh, but do you have any idea how much money the city would get if they moved some of the senior living facilities from their white-hot locations? There's a large, old senior building on Norway Street in the Symphony neighborhood that, if sold, could easily move all residents (with money to double or triple its size) to a brand-new building that isn't located directly in an area where 99% of all Boston residents wished they could live, but can't afford it.

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So, why do seniors have to move. They can't live in the white hot neighborhoods?

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Maybe just stop throwing tax breaks at developers for building in these white hot neighborhoods instead.

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Seniors are welcome to live wherever they want, obviously.

If the public is funding/subsidizing senior housing, however, then perhaps be smart with the funding! I'm saying moving this senior location on Norway would allow for 2x, 3x, 4x or even 5x more subsidized senior units. If taxpayers are paying then at least pretend to be smart with their money!

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You can't just move seniors. The so-called white-hot neighborhoods have walk ability. It's one of the things that make it so attractive but it's a necessity for older people. You are woefully under estimating the true cost of moving these people out of this neighborhood. Unless you move grocery stores and doctors offices with them you're really hurting their health

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I remember visiting this street, and going into some of the buildings, in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some properties were burned out, it was dirty and not a place to go at night. Gays were there, the first wave of gentrification, but it had a long way to go. The subsidized housing, for senior and others, was part of an effort to stabilize the area. Symphony Road, the heart of an arson for profit scheme in the 1970s, is nearby.

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The CPA requires a minimum 10% expenditure in three categories:

* open space/recreation
* historic preservation
* community housing

A community could do as much as 80% parks, but could never do 100% parks. The CPA doesn't, and has never, allowed it.

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He also objected to the "anomaly" of letting voters, rather than elected officials, make decisions on tax issues.

Ugh, I hate agreeing with him....

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Please find a way to get yourself on the committee that decides how to distribute CPA funds. Boston needs knowledgeable citizens on the committee, not the usual stooges.

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2003 we had 17,091 city employees and a $1.862 billion budget (those are actuals)

2016 we budgeted 17,285 city employees with a $2.857 billion budget (usually actual employees ends up being less and the actual amount spent comes in higher due to budgeting methodology)

Looks like they took the proposed 2017 budget down - but last I looked, they were expecting 3.5%-4.0 % more revenue.

So we are looking at about the same number of employees and almost 60% higher budget over the past 14 years - and they can't make ends meet (inflation has run about half that).

Only someone grossly fiscally incompetent would conclude that they can't balance a budget like that. With that kind of budget - we should all have personalized concierge services from the city.

I am putting together an online financial literacy program - maybe I should offer a remedial version to our elected officials (recent Wall Street Journal article gave Mass an F relative to other states for financial literacy education).

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(recent Wall Street Journal article gave Mass an F relative to other states for financial literacy education).

And the City Council issued a statement (through Linehan):
"Thank you to the Wall Street Journal for that Fantastic rating!"

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Yes inflation is low, but these items are going through the roof. And yes they are all budget-busters.

Adding 1% to pay for important things that never get enough money is a wonderful idea.

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$1.86 in 2003 has the same buying power in 2016 as $2.41
and health insurance for city employees has probably been growing faster than inflation over the last 13 years
http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

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wages haven't increased at the same rate. So while the general population is told to just do more with less, the gub-ment is not held to the same stadard. The answer of course is to dig into the gen pop's pockets a little more.
USA!
USA!
USA!

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Form public employees, EVERY YEAR!

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Source: I work in city government and don't get a living wage or increases. Not Union.

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Not at all. Many public employees are grant funded, too.

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The budget is 60% higher - not inflation (I used that same calculator).
That $1.86 in 2003 is now almost $3 in Boston dollars - for effectively the same level of service - other than some deck chair rearranging.

The rest of the world somehow manages to balance their budgets around inflation (or less). So if health care goes up 5% - then salaries go up 1%. If they hired more people, put more into capital improvements for schools parks etc. - I get it. But we are getting almost exactly the same level of service for 60% more cost. You are defending the indefensible. All they are doing is giving themselves raises at double the rate of inflation.

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*Politicians can and do grant themselves raises

*Public sector unions, especially fire and police, are very powerful and influential. They, along with those who got their job through nepotism or some other type of favoritism including officially sanctioned like employment 'benchmarks' of certain demographics, are the people who help get politicians elected, especially at local levels. They contribute to campaigns, hold signs, attend rallies, etc. These groups and people expect in-turn to be paid off.Many of these people stay at their city job for a LONG time, and move around inside city government. They end up with with lucrative benefits and entitlements, including pensions and *healthcare, that are VERY expensive.

*The Affordable Healthcare Act (AKA Obamacare) has not helped the situation cost-wise, it's made it much worse.

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Amazingly enough I agree with you!! :-) You have a very valid point.

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We probably agree on more things than you think. I'm pretty liberal on social things. Just hate seeing money wasted.

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The City is not unilaterally deciding to raise wages. It's being forced to do so.

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I thought a CPA was only for purchases of open land and maintenance of parks, not also a general welfare fund for housing.

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It can be used to build affordable housing, too.

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And in practice, the vast majority of the money goes to the housing nonprofits. It's a tiny percentage that goes to parks, open space, and historic preservation.

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By nonprofits you mean the well compensated administrators at nonprofits.

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I was told by planners in Salem that 80% goes to historic preservation there. CPA requires 10% min to each of the three supported areas.

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Absolutely not! Property owners get screwed here. Time to screw the hacks.

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They'll pass it right on to their tenants in the form of a rental increase.

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are family. I'm not raising the rent on my wife's grandmother, sorry you can't have another f'ing ghetto.

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That sure would make for one hell of a holiday family gathering.

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That buys a lot of scratch tickets, dude!

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I've had the same tenants for over 30 years. I don't want to price them out of their home to give hacks a slush fund.

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Landlords set rent according to supply and demand. Property taxes are a minor factor in a hot rental market.

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when landlords pass it on through as part of the justification for a rent increase.

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No plowed roads for you!

NO! I won't pay!!! ME! ME!

BTW, Boston taxes are LOW compared with other places in the country.

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How do tax rates in other places help me? Oh and my street often doesn't get plowed. Moron.

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According to the Globe, this increase would boost the average tax bill on a single-family house by about $23.

BFD! Just do it!

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You pay. Never ending unlimited tax hikes are political suicide. Inshallah.

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Improving parks and keeping old folks from having to move out is worth 23 bucks.

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it's called charity.

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You could move to Kansas. Or Wisconsin. Or Michigan. Or Oklahoma. Or even Louisiana. Their leaders think like you do! You might be happier there ... if you could find work.

See how your philosophy is working out in an operational context ... or more like failing utterly with disastrous consequences.

Then note how their neighboring states that ignore whiners and actually fund programs are doing - Minnesota, Colorado, etc.

Makes for a nice case/control study of how to run an economy versus how to poison it with selfish and ignorant "theories" that don't account for reality.

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Governments do not run economies. At least not prosperous ones.

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Explain the differences between what is happening in Kansas and Oklahoma's "faith-based policy" versus Colorado's reality-based policies, between the failure of Wisconsin's Tea Party bender versus Minnesota's reality-based policies, and how the failures in the former states versus the successes in their NEIGHBORING states "have nothing to do with government".

Please cite your sources for "governments don't run economies".

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http://medford.wickedlocal.com/article/20150521/NEWS/150529878

" In fact, of the 19 municipalities in the state with at least as many housing units as Medford, none offered a smaller percentage of affordable units than Medford.

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, Medford had 23,698 housing units, with 1,647 qualifying as low- and moderate-income housing, or 6.9 percent. Meanwhile, the majority of surrounding communities had larger shares of affordable units, including Cambridge (15.2 percent), Lexington (11.1), Malden (10.2), Somerville (9.7), Melrose (7.6), Woburn (7.0) and Saugus (7.0)."

To be clear, you're arguing here that we need to pay more in Boston to supply affordable housing that your town won't, right?

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So many opinions about how other people should live their lives. So many judgements.

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Majority of owner-occupied housing in the city are condos, not single-family homes, but the city always releases data showing single-family homes, only .. because it often looks less ominous, plus super-voters tend to live in neighborhoods where there are single-family homes, not condos.

Hm.

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Are they talking 1% of assessed value after the first $100,000? So if your property was assessed at $500,000, you're paying an extra $4,000 a year? Or is it 1% of your current annual tax bill?

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It's 1% of your tax bill. Residential taxes are currently 1.1% of valuation, minus exemptions. The tax rate would effectively go from 1.1% to 1.111%.

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It is when you start realizing that something else is only $10, then the other is only $5, then the next is only $30 (all arbitrary figures, but you get the point). It always get me going when I see a service advertised as "only $x!". Wow, what a deal for...x..?

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If it's "only" $23, will you pay mine for me?

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Remember this and vote these clowns out come election time.

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I knew they'd pounce on this.

To hell with the old people or people who work hard and get paid very poorly. Float em all out on icebergs like we did in the good old days.

Oh wait, we melted those...

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So they might still be forced out of Boston, but it will be because they live neighborhoods like South Boston, where the property values have approached hockey-stick values, not because of a $28 annual surcharge.

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I think that would be better.

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Empty apartment tax! Tax those foreign investors who sit on properties here.

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and storefronts that raise the rent, pushing out 'undesirable' local businesses and waiting for banks and corporate tenants to sweep in (looking at you, rozzie square)

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State constitution would have to be amended to allow for a new tax rate

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Explain.

Remember that vacancy causes burden on local services as well.

Maybe it could be a fee instead of a tax, but I don't see it as being a new tax rate or having to do with the state constitution in any way.

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Occutards love this xenophobic talking point but I've yet to see one example.

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How so?

Vacant buildings are a source of criminal activity and put demand on government services.

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I would love to see that. The city could make a bundle on Belgrade alone.

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I am a 62 year old life long (so far) resident of Boston. I am being taxed out. In the last 12 years my RE taxes have quadrupled from about $3000 a year to about $12000 a year. I feel like I am a renter to the City of Boston. These bums will never have enough money. They will tax the coins on a dead man's eyes. Oh carp I probably just gave them a new tax idea.

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But obviously the value of your property (now somewhere north of $1 million, I'm guessing) has jumped up quite a bit too.

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Everyone's house is going up in value, some a lot, due to location. But income for most people is not going up at the same rate, which is a real burden for people. Higher property value are great if you are flipping houses, not if you want to stay where you live.

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Because of 2 1/2, property taxes are almost a zero-sum game. So the fact that property values and taxes are skyrocketing in South Boston sucks for people who want to stay, but means those of us in the more remote sections of Roslindale see little increases in our taxes, because while our houses are appreciating, they're not doing so anywhere near the extent they are in South Boston (or other parts of Roslindale, for that matter).

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This year, my taxes actually went down slightly due to Prop 2 1/2. As you correctly pointed out, it is pretty much a zero-sum game.

A few years ago, residential taxes went way up due to a sharp decline in commercial values. Given that the city charges a higher rate for commercial property, this had quite an impact.

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people that can't move for whatever reason? The hacks just want to force out all the natives and stock the place with nosebleed transients that don't vote.

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can't move? don't want to move?

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Take out some equity to pay the taxes.

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Why would anyone borrow money to pay taxes? Sounds like the kind of move that's given us lots of national debt.

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Because a large portion of their net worth is tied up in an illiquid asset?

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If paying and additional $9k a year in taxes is enough of a burden that you'd be forced to move, that's a decision you'll have to make. I'm sorry property values have gone up instead of down.

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I believe the city has a tax-to-lien program which does exactly that.

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My job is here. My family is here. I own my house outright. Moving isn't an option. Stop the spending!

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Explain how you are not being subsidized by others already if you are soooo poor?

I'm betting that you get more in services than you could pay for out of your pocket if you didn't pay taxes.

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Nope, no subsidies and no medical insurance Also no job for the last two years, no one wants a 62 year old. Some of us prefer to be independent not dependant. One of my points is if the hacks are getting four times the money they were getting twelve years ago, why do they need more now. Could it be they want all the money?

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Your house is worth at least 3 times what it was 12 years ago.

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I asked my councilors about this tax increase and was told it can only be used for parks, historical sites and structures, and affordable housing. They also were very upset that I kept referring to it as a "tax increase", insisting it was "only a surcharge". I replied that we already have budgets for these things and they told me that this would allow them to decrease their budgets as this new revenue stream would help fund those initiatives. I asked what would be done with the saved money? Would my "taxes" be decreased now that we have the money from the "surcharge"? There's was some stammering. I asked if it was possible that the increased revenue would be put into what they say it will be put into, but the money saved on the budget decreases to these departments go toward the mayor's or the council's pet projects such as the plans to redevelop Widett Circle? I'm definitely onto something because two of the at-large councilors insistently responded with "Where did you hear that?". To simplify it for the unwashed, uneducated masses, let's say the parks budget is $100. The surcharge brings in enough that we can short the parks budget by $10, bringing it down to $90. The $10 that was shorter is now made up by the surcharge, bringing it back to $100. However, even though they shorted the budget by $10, they didn't give it back to the taxpayer, it goes someplace else. The question is, where does it go? It's just a shell game. They're taking it out of your left pocket instead of your right. Vote NO to the lies.

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That's howvthese things work. Fortunately there are sites like this where you can expose these shenanigans to at least some residents.

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Nothing says affordability like a tax increase.

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It's not a tax increase, it's only "a surcharge".

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I would love to see more affordable housing in Boston, but this isn't the way. As someone else pointed out, the amount of money raised won't be enough to accomplish much of anything. But if the city council really wants this, how about charging greedy landlords who are a big part of why we're in this mess in the first place. Double or triple to greedy *and* absentee landlords.

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Our employee's hard at work devising ways to spend our money! Democrats never saw a tax they did not like. With all the construction ongoing in Boston how about a decrease we voted for?

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