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Money for the Hub


Boston, like other metropolitan areas in the United States, is caught in the spiral of an increasing tax rate. City residents move into the suburbs when the tax level becomes high. With income decreased by the exodus to suburbia, the city is forced to raise the level again in order to survive. Boston's taxes this year were $86 per $1000; next year the Municipal Research Bureau fears they will rise to $90.

Most discouraging of all, Boston's soaring rates scare away the new industries which might halt the trend by bringing in new income to the city. Recently, the Prudential Life Insurance Company cancelled plans for a Boston project for this reason. Instead of industries, tax-exempt institutions have invaded the Metropolitan area, many of them serving state-wide and even nationwide interests, as do Harvard and M.I.T., for example. Boston is rapidly becoming a city of students, scientists, and humanitarians--which is fine for everyone except the tax-paying manufacturer.

The first step toward stopping the tax trend should be the enactment of Mayor Hynes' "white paper" proposal of July. City government would become at least somewhat efficient, since plans cutting school and city personnel in an 18-month "no-hire, no-fire" policy, reducing overtime pay for officials, slicing capital improvements to only "necessary and recurring" items as streets and sewers, and equalizing tax assessments.

Cutting the dead wood from the city's financial structure is not enough, however. Boston should set up a Civic Improvement Commission to study possibilities for new industries moving into the Metropolitan area.

The final solution, other than surrender to the spiral, must be a sales tax or other system of state-wide income gathering which would shift some of the burden from cities to suburbs. Mayor Hynes is hoping for such legislation and with good cause. Boston has reached the point where pulling itself up by its own bootstraps financially is impossible. Only economizing, industrial growth, and state-wide taxation combined can enable the city to more than hold its own.

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