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Flaherty calls meals and hotel tax hike "dropping an anvil on small local businesses."

Contributed by Jackie Hai:

WBZ interviewed City Councilor Michael Flaherty recently (thanks for the non-existent date-stamp, 'BZ!) about the local option meals and hotels tax proposed by Mayor Thomas Menino on July 22. The increase would hike taxes on meals at local restaurants up to 7% and hotel room-rates up to 14.45% effective Oct. 1.

Flaherty vehemently opposes the proposal, which he likens to "dropping an anvil on small local businesses."

WBZ's automated transcript is a little wonky. For those who'd prefer to read the interview, I've typed up full transcript below:

JM: This is John McClain in the WBZ newsroom. I'm speaking to Councilor Michael Flaherty in regard to the local options issue, a plan to potentially raise meals and lodging taxes. Councilor, what is your stance on this issue?

MF: Sure -- couldn't disagree more with our mayor's proposal to impose a local meals and hotels tax. As I get across the city, I'm speaking to small business owners, restaurants, coffee shops, cafes and diners. They're struggling right now. They're struggling to keep their business afloat, struggling to pay their employees, to pay their rent and insurance, and so the last thing we should be doing is to impose something that potentially would further burden their potential customers.

I equate what our mayor's doing to dropping an anvil on small local businesses, at a time when many of them are contemplating closing their doors.

JM: How would you, then, propose to raise some of the revenue that's needed here?

MF: The issue here is this administration is taxing before managing. We need to identify wasteful government spending, we need to collect the money that's owed to our city -- for example the $66 million that's outstanding in parking fines that has gone uncollected over the last five years. We need to put pressure on colleges and universities to pay their fair share, by revisiting the pilot payment system. So there are a lot of things that we can do to get a predictable revenue stream.

The fact of the matter is that it's more the need to eliminate wasteful spending ... as well as the need to be more efficient. So those are my suggestions, but the last thing we should be doing is further burdening residents that like to dine at their local residents.

JM: So when you sit there at this meeting today, what will you say and what will your vote be?

MF: Well, I'm not voting for the local meals and hotel tax -- I think it's a bad idea -- and I'll be saying just what I had mentioned to you, which is before we start further burdening residents and tax-payers, visitors and tourists, we should take look at ourselves first, take our own inventory. Let's eliminate the wasteful spending, let's eliminate the overpaid consultants that permeate city hall and many departments throughout our city that we can no longer afford. Let's go after the $66 million that's owed in unpaid parking fines.

It's things like that, it's putting pressure on colleges and universities to pay their fair share -- the city currently gets pennies on the dollar for the services that we provide these institutions. At the same time recognizing the value that they add to the city and to the number of employees that they employ, the fact of the matter is that they can do better, just like our city can do better. So that's what I'll be saying when I oppose the mayor's anvil.


What is the need of taxes on meals at local restaurants up to 7% and hotel room-rates up to 14.45%?


It makes me sick when people start trash talking about Flaherty's relationship with the Boston Fire Department. What would you do without fire fighters when they save your house from burning down or even save your life. I notice they are usually the first ones there when you get into an accident. Enough already, He received their endorsement and is not in bed with them. Flaherty supports mandatory drug testing for Fire Fighters along with other city employees.

What about some real issues such as the real reason why Menino is closing Fire Stations and risking our very own lives. He is only punishing the fire fighters for endorsing Michael Flaherty and using this as a scare tactic for other unions to endorse him and not Flaherty. Read “A Tale of Two Cities- What Happens When Menino’s Firehouse is Browned Out?” at www.ChangeForBoston.org


7/3/2009 - Released by Mayor's Office
For more information contact Mayor's Office at 617-635-4500

Over the course of the past few days, a lot of misinformation regarding the Boston Fire Department’s daily operational plan has been spread by certain individuals for the purpose of political gain. The following information is being provided in hopes of answering questions you may have:

* This City of Boston is not closing any fire stations or laying-off any firefighters.

* Every day the Boston Fire Department Command Staff puts together an operational plan that rotates certain companies in and out of service. This takes place when a fire company is off-site due to training, or due to vehicle maintenance, or when a company is assisting another town, or for any number of reasons. The purpose of the daily operational plan is to ensure that all areas of the City have coverage. This has always been the case in the Boston Fire Department and it will continue to be the case.

* If the Command Staff determines taking a company out of service would jeopardize coverage, they will hire the necessary number of firefighters to staff the necessary number of companies in the City. No fire station in the City will be temporarily shut down, regardless of the level of absenteeism, unless the Fire Department has determined that full coverage can be provided by other fire companies.

* The goal of the daily operational plan of the Boston Fire Department is to ensure fire protection for the City – not to create overtime opportunities for members of the Fire Union. Fire Union members provide a tremendous service to the residents of the City of Boston. They can be of greater assistance by decreasing their level of absenteeism. This type of dispute regarding overtime, while serious, should not serve as a reason to misinform the public or cause unnecessary concern about fire coverage.

Residents are always encouraged to contact the Mayor’s 24-hour hotline with questions or concerns at 617-635-4500.

...Flaherty fancies himself the fiscally responsible candidate? How does he rationalize his relationship with Local 718? Maybe the biggest bleed on city tax payers what with the sick time abuse, pension fraud and questionable disablity issues (nevermind the fight for a 20% pay raise). Consistency is a good trait in a leader......where is it with this candidate?