Patrick Makes Menino Smile

Mayor Menino was in a good mood at the Massachusetts Municipal Association's conference at the Hynes, and with good reason -- Deval Patrick announced his support for several of Tommy's pet initiatives. One is local option taxes, better known to you and me as an extra couple of bucks on a dinner out or a hotel room. Patrick said he plans to introduce legislation allowing cities and towns to do that. The governor also voiced interest, although not definite plans, for removing or changing the property-tax exemption for telecom companies. That's an ancient and arcane item, but one that Menino's been pounding his head against the wall on for years.

There's no guarantee that Patrick's support will get the items through the legislature, but it improves the odds considerably, Menino told me after Patrick's speech.

Of more interest to other municipalities, Patrick talked about a number of other items, including allowing towns to participate in the Group Insurance health plan; changing joint procurement laws to allow for more regional cost-sharing; and expanding the circuit-breaker for property taxes. He also said he would look at having the state pay more payment-in-lieu-of-taxes on its properties. (That got a nice round of applause.)

He was a little less specific about the other half of what he called a "grand bargain," but it's going to involve business development -- stuff like easing the permit and zoning processes.

Much more to come, obviously, but so far it's got Menino smiling at least.

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