From the Flats: Editorial commentary and news briefs


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Leave no voter behind

One of the advantages of holding nonpartisan elections is that candidates must reach out to voters across the political spectrum. That’s the way the city of Boston has run its elections for millennia. Small groups may provide that critical edge in at-large elections and in a political environment dominated by progressives, more conservative groups can provide that extra boost. One small but active group is the East Boston Republican Ward Committee. At its February 9 meeting, the committee heard from at-large city council candidate David Halbert. Mr. Halbert outlined his vision for the council and the city stressing his professional and political experience. Halbert currently serves on the boards of the Greater Mattapan Neighborhood Council, East Boston Main Streets, and the East Boston Piers Park Advisory Council. “The ward committee appreciates and thanks Mr. Halbert for coming out that snowy night to speak at the committee meeting,” says Committee secretary Christopher Morton. Every vote counts.

City of Boston sets its rates for FY 21: Historic High for New Growth: $103M

Tax Rate Table BMRB
Source: Boston Municipal Research Bureau

According to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, Boston’s total assessed property value continued a decade long trend of growth in FY21, rising $14.5B or 8.2% from FY20 for a total of $190.7B. That’s the result of additional property coming onto the city’s tax rolls. This “new growth” is made possible by new construction and renovations. Despite the pandemic, Boston’s tax base continues to grow. Among that new growth is an increase in new residential condominiums. Observers will take a closer look at commercial and industrial tax revenues from the coming year, however. It remains to be seen how many hardship cases or requests for abatement emerge as a result of COVID19 lockdowns. The research bureau noted that the city’s residential rate, which is taxed less in proportion to commercial and industrial, rose by one percent. When it comes to the city’s finances, stay tuned.

This just in: Walsh, Community Preservation Committee announce spending recommendations including two East Boston projects

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston Community Preservation Committee (CPC) recently announced their recommendation of 67 projects, totaling over $25.5 million in grants through the Community Preservation Act (CPA) current funding round. Two East Boston projects are included in the proposal.

“Projects supported by funding through the Community Preservation Act are a reflection of the needs and voices of the residents in our neighborhoods. Because proposals are developed and created by Bostonians, each project directly serves each of our communities,” said Mayor Walsh.

Following the CPC’s public hearing and vote on Thursday, February 11, 2021 and Mayor Walsh’s recommendation, the proposed projects have been filed with the Boston City Council for a vote of approval. Projects supported with Community Preservation Act funding must create or preserve affordable housing, historic sites, or open space and recreation.

East Boston
Source: Mayor’s Office

Included in the package of recommendations for East Boston is historic preservation measure that would rehabilitate and restore the 1903 Byron Street wall of the historic Ohabei Shalom Cemetery, including site work, resetting and re-pointing of failed masonry. The recommendation calls for $40,000 in expenditures.

Meanwhile, the committee also recommended an Open Space and Recreation award of $50,000 to fund the design and water installation in the City Water at 6 Chelsea Terrace urban community garden. The improvement would make recreational land more functional for the intended use and crop growth. No money was proposed for affordable housing in East Boston in this round.

For more information about the Community Preservation Act, visit here. To learn more about the process of applying for Community Preservation Act funding, visit the CPA’s How to Apply Page.

Compiled and edited by Frank Conte, February 22, 2021