Guest Op-Ed: Question 1 Will Exchange a Proven Budgeting Process for Chaos

By: Pam Kocher

Hiding underneath the spotlighted races for Mayor and City Council on the Nov. 2 ballot is Question 1, which is a binding initiative that will change the City Charter and allow a budgeting power grab by the City Council. 

We believe this change will bring chaos to a strong budgeting system that currently works well.

The mission of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau (BMRB) is to be the City’s fiscal watchdog, and on Question 1, the BMRB wants to get the facts to voters. In the past, we have sounded the alarm many times on what we believed were unwise fiscal measures, and now we are doing that on Question 1 and asking that residents make sure to vote ‘No on 1’ after they cast their votes for mayor and city council.

Question 1 looks to shift some budgeting powers away from the mayor and allow 13 City Councilors to write and override the mayor’s budget. Question 1 will also introduce more meetings, resources going to the loudest constituents, and it could damage the City’s pristine credit rating.

A few facts need to be put on the record:

•Question 1 is unnecessary as the Council already has tools and powers that they can use to influence the City Budget – tools and powers they rarely use now. In fact, with just one memorandum, the City Council could call for very specific revisions and additions that the mayor could incorporate into any budget and do so publicly.

•The question is binding, meaning that it’s not an opinion poll. If this passes, it would result in a change to the City Charter that would be permanent.

•The big issue in Question 1 is not participatory budgeting. In fact, Boston already has that. It was introduced many years ago under the Menino Administration.

•Finally, the measure is unfair to our new female leader, whomever she may be. No matter which of the mayoral candidates wins on Nov. 2, she will be the first elected female mayor of Boston, but she will also be walking into a job stripped of important budgeting powers if Question 1 passes. Where is the fairness in taking away powers from the first female mayor, powers that male mayors have enjoyed for generations?

Boston has been recognized for decades as being a fiscally sound, with a AAA bond rating that allows our city to pay less for borrowed dollars, save on capital projects and manage through downturns in our economy. Our budgeting process keeps people employed, programs funded and services reaching the neediest.

Our city works because our budget works.

Vote ‘No on 1’ to make sure we continue making prudent financial decisions in our city. For more detailed information, log on to No1boston.com and make sure to get the facts on Question 1.

 Pam Kocher – is  President of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and Boston Resident

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