December 10, 2008
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said Tuesday that the capital's loss in a local aid rollback could be as much as $60 million, warning that economic realities could force the city to face the same service cutbacks that have prompted other mayors to stop plowing residential streets.
Accepting instead of bucking House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi's pronouncement Monday that state assistance to cities and towns could drop 10 percent next fiscal year, Menino said, "We as a city have been realizing that might happen."
Addressing the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, Menino delivered a stern message to the Patrick administration as it pushes a $100 million toll package, and instead promoted the gas tax as "the fairest solution" to the transportation funding shortfall.
"Doubling the tolls in and around Boston is the wrong answer," Menino said. "It's not fair and it's bad policy."
Menino said he would create a task force to explore extracting greater payments from non-profit organizations and announced $40 million in federal loans for stalled construction projects. The mayor jabbed at lawmakers from his city during the question-and-answer session, suggesting they did not grasp the city's best interests on the toll issue.
"First of all ... I have to get the Boston legislators to understand this," Menino said, drawing twitters from the Park Plaza Hotel crowd. Menino then laid out how higher tolls would harm East Boston, the North End, and South Boston.
Attendees said later they were unsure what Menino was referencing in his swipe at the Boston delegation. "I am puzzled by the mayor's comments regarding the Boston delegation," said Rep. Marty Walz (D-Boston), who attended the speech.