As I mentioned yesterday, The Boston Foundation is out with a new report on Boston – in its opinion, the city is restricted in how it can raise revenue, putting the city at a disadvantage to other major cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago.

Boston relies on four taxes to bring in revenue: the property tax, and, I think, excise taxes on cars, on jet fuel, and on hotels & motels (other major cities have between four and seven times as many ways to bring in revenue, according to TBF). (Taxes bring in around 58% of the city’s budget; the remainder is state aid (23%), fees, parking tickets, etc.) (I’m confused by one thing, which is what the “excise tax” on hotels & motels is, and how it differs from what is being proposed by the governor, below.)

But, the city has a friend in our new governor, Patrick Deval.

The Patrick administration announced a plan today that would give cities and towns the right to impose taxes on meals, hotels, motels, and telecommunications companies, and create a commission to study other ways to help local governments raise revenues.

Here’s the important part:

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in January that the proposal to repeal the property tax exemptions of telecommunications companies would allow the city to deliver an average of $200 in property tax relief to homeowners each year.

Now, print out this article. I want you to hold onto it until the next fiscal year. I want you to then pull out your fiscal 2008 property tax bill, and compare it to your 2007 property tax bill, and let me know if your taxes have gone down $200, as the Mayor has suggested.

If they’ve gone down $20, or $2 even, I’ll jump in the Charles River next Valentine’s Day.

My prediction is that the city will start taxing the telecommunications companies but keep taxing its residents at the same rate as before.

And, taxes collected by the city will increase even more, if the other part of the Patrick proposal is passed by the state legislature:

The legislation would [also] allow local governments to tack on an additional 2 percent on top of the state’s existing 5 percent meals tax and also impose local taxes on hotel and motels.

Mayor Thomas M Menino has already asked the state for permission to raise the meals tax in Boston (actually, has done so for at least the past four years).

Source: Patrick aims to increase taxing power of cities and towns – The Boston Globe

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