Boston City Council meeting - August 2, 2017
Today was the second of our summer City Council meetings in Faneuil Hall. The renovation of the Iannella Council Chamber is well underway, and we look forward to returning to a more accessible home this fall!
We also had two special presentations before the meeting today. First, we honored Tom Dillon, a West Roxbury resident who in June was awoken in the middle of the night to a fire. Seeing that it was his elderly neighbors’ home, he rushed inside and helped them to safety by literally carrying them out of the flames. Thank you for your courage and compassion, Tom!
We also recognized several Afro-Latina women leaders in our City, in honor of Afro-Latina Women’s Day. We recognize the unique experiences of your community and thank you for your contributions to Boston.
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Martin’s Park: The Mayor submitted an order to transfer certain city-owned parcels at Sleeper Street and Seaport Boulevard to the Parks Department for the design and construction of Martin’s Park. The park will be open to the public and dedicated to Martin Richard, whom we lost in the Boston Marathon bombings but whose short life continues to inspire us all.
Enhanced 911: Mayor Walsh filed two requests to accept and expend grants from the state for training and certification of 911 telecommunications staff and for providing enhanced 911 services. The grants were assigned to the Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee for a hearing.
Community Preservation Committee: We voted to pass an amended ordinance creating Boston’s Community Preservation Committee. After the successful Community Preservation Act ballot referendum in November, the 1% property tax surcharge has been added to tax bills starting in July. Before these CPA funds can be disbursed to projects, state law requires that the local legislative body pass an ordinance to define the composition and procedures of the committee that will make recommendations on how to allocate the funds. In our ordinance, the Committee will have 9 members: 5 appointed by the Mayor and 4 by the City Council--all for staggered 3-year terms. Of the seats appointed by the Council, one seat requires expertise in open spaces, housing and/or historical preservation, one seat requires expertise in development, business, finance, and/or construction, and two are at-large seats; all must be city residents who do not work for the City. The ordinance also includes requirements for transparency and community engagement. The Council will post the positions through the City website for anyone to apply, and a Council subcommittee to be set up will vet the applications and make recommendations to the full Council for a confirmation vote.
BPS Facilities Upgrades: We took the first vote to approve appropriations for a feasibility study and schematic design work associated with boiler, window, or roof replacement projects at the following schools: East Boston High School, O'Donnell School K-5, Sumner School K-5, Timilty Middle School, Tobin School K-8, UP Academy K-8, Russell School K-5. These will be eligible for reimbursement from the MA School Building Authority at a rate of 65%.
Cost-of-living Adjustment for Retirees: We voted to approve an increase in the cost-of-living (“COLA”) base from $13,000 to $14,000 for all retirees and beneficiaries of the Boston Retirement System, as recommended by the Boston Retirement Board. The amount was last adjusted in 2012, from $12,000 to $13,000.
Expanding Access to Dental Care: Councilor O’Malley introduced a resolution in support of Massachusetts House Bill 2474 and Senate Bill 1169, which authorize dental health therapists to expand access to dental care. Many low-income, disabled, and elderly people often lack access to adequate oral health services. The bills in the State Legislature would allow dental therapists, upon completion of additional training and certification, to provide basic and critical care to underserved communities under the supervision of a dentist.
Voter Registration in the City of Boston: Councilor Zakim filed a hearing order to examine ways to change our voter registration process to guarantee more ballot access, including eliminating voter registration deadlines, allowing same-day voter registration, and moving to an automatic opt-out system. The matter was referred to the Special Committee on Civil Rights for a hearing.
Net-Zero Carbon Requirements and Incentives: Councilor O’Malley called for a hearing regarding the benefits of net-zero carbon requirements and incentives in future construction in Boston. Given that more than half of Boston’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, instituting such requirements would help the City meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The matter was assigned to the Environment and Sustainability Committee for a hearing.
Community Choice Energy: I was proud to introduce an order in partnership with Councilor O’Malley authorizing the City of Boston to adopt Community Choice Energy, following our hearing order from January and working session in April. The adoption of a green Community Choice Energy plan would allow the City of Boston to surpass state renewable energy requirements and bring energy decisions into local control. This would be the first step in a state-defined process with community oversight. Our order includes specific language with stipulations to seek bids for at least 5% renewable sourcing about state standards for the default option and pricing for an opt-in of 100% renewables. 98 cities and towns in Massachusetts have already adopted community choice energy. The matter was assigned to the Environment & Sustainability Committee for a hearing.
Safe Disposal of Home Generated Sharps: Councilor Essaibi-George introduced an ordinance to provide safe disposal of home-generated sharps. More than 20,000 improperly discarded sharps were collected by the City of Boston in 2016. This ordinance would require all retailers and distributors of sharps for home use to collect and properly dispose of used sharps at no additional cost to the consumer. The matter was assigned to the Government Operations Committee for a hearing.
Upcoming Hearings: None scheduled at this time.
Reminder that the next meeting of the City Council will take place on Wednesday, August 23rd at 12pm, again at Faneuil Hall.