May 10, 2016

Cambridge, MA Politicians Boast of How They Spend Other People's Money

Taxpayers fund the Cambridge chapter of the Spending Other People's Money Society. Politicians speak as if it is their money. Money was saved in semi secret accounts by 31-year City Manager (now at Harvard University) Robert Healy. The weekly agenda reveals dozens of accounts from and to which money is regularly transfered. A sort of multiple card monte game which councilors ignore. If money is available, politicians will spend it. They never return money to taxpayers. Rejoicing in extra money, they do things like, "needs-assessment" Councillor Mazen said, adding “We’re seeing a huge change in the educational equity organizing.” Huh? Taking from taxpayers and giving to who? The report says wishfully, "The City Council plays a smaller role in the budget approval process than its does in other local affairs." Huh? Under the Plan E form of government the Council hires a Manager, has legislative power, and approves curb cuts. MGL Chapter 43, Sec. 107 says, "The city council nor any member thereof shall give orders to any subordinate of the city manager either publicly or privately. Any member of the city council who violates, [. . .] any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine [or] imprisonment, [. . .] or both, and [. . .] shall [be removed from office] and [. . .] never again be eligible for any office or position, elective or otherwise,"

[From article]
"We’ve managed to increase services and not cut services and still keep property taxes low,” Finance Committee Chair and Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern said following Thursday's City Council Finance Committee meeting. “It is a pretty remarkable accomplishment in this day and age.”
[. . .]
“The non-profit coalition coming together to do this needs-assessment is something I’ve been talking about under other terminology since the beginning,” Councillor Nadeem A. Mazen said. “We’re seeing a huge change in the educational equity organizing.”
Property taxes remained steady this year thanks to what McGovern called “free cash,” the spending of a reserve of money saved for emergencies like floods or for other projects.
“It’s about $195-or-so million,” McGovern said. “It’s really from just over the years our pretty sound fiscal management where they’ve put money on the side.”
[. . .]

The City Council plays a smaller role in the budget approval process than its does in other local affairs. While the Council ultimately has final say, City Manager Richard C. Rossi and his office were responsible for crafting the more than 400-page document. Despite this lack of direct input, Mazen claimed the Council still holds some sway over what goes into the budget.
“There’s a little bit of Ouija clout-pressure on the budget where things I’ve advocated for tend to find their way into the budget,” Mazen said. “The Council should have several looks at the budget before we see a hard-copy and a couple looks at working collaboratively as a council to define the budget ahead of time.”
Harvard pays property taxes on non-educational buildings and provides extra funds to Cambridge in lieu of taxes. MIT and Cambridge have a similar relationship. Not including payments in lieu of taxes, the two universities make up over nine percent of the city’s tax base.
[. . .]
While not included in the FY 17 budget, earlier this week Rossi and Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone announced a joint effort to provide $75 million for the long-delayed Green Line extension project in northern Cambridge.
“Somerville and Cambridge will stand with the Commonwealth to advance the state of the art,” Rossi and Curtatone wrote in a statement. “We do so with the expectation that this is truly a new precedent for statewide policy, and that our communities will not be held to higher standards than other Massachusetts municipalities seeking state and federal financing for roadway, transit or other infrastructure projects.”
Rossi pledged $25 million from Cambridge, however such a plan must still be approved by the City Council. In a letter to the Council, Rossi said he would suggest the matter be forwarded to the City Council’s Transportation and Public Utilities Committee.

Cambridge FY17 Budget Includes Millions for Local Renovations
May 8, 2016

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Leave it to politicians to take credit for the work of others. Taxpayers make it possible for the spending other people's money society to spend taxpayer money. As Vice Chairman of the Cambridge chapter of the SOPMS Councilor McGovern not opnly does nto thank taxpayers, but he acts as if it was his ideas where to spend the money. add more

[From article]
I personally am excited to see is the $1.3 million that will go toward moving Cambridge closer to affordable, universal, high-quality early childhood education for all children.
[. . .]
There isn’t a person in our city administration who doesn’t understand and isn’t committed to finding ways to maintain affordable housing in Cambridge, and we will continue to direct funds to try and stabilize an ever-increasing housing market that is leading to higher rent and home ownership prices, not just in Cambridge but in the entire Metro Boston area.
[. . .]
continued funding to address our homelessness and opioid crisis
[. . .]
we know that we have more work to do in order to be the socially just community we want to be.
[. . .]
What makes Cambridge different, is that our financial stability, combined with our commitment as a community to support one another, puts us in a position to address these complicated issues and to put resources behind them to move our city forward for all of our residents.

Vice Mayor column: Cambridge pulls off difficult balance with budget
By Marc McGovern
Posted May. 5, 2016 at 12:13 PM

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