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Boston, Massachusetts

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Boston, Massachusetts
Boston city seal.png
General information
Marty Walsh.jpg
Mayor:Martin Walsh
Mayor party:Nonpartisan
Last mayoral election:2013
Next mayoral election:2017
Last city council election:2013
Next city council election:2015
City council seats:13
2014 FY Budget:$2.6 billion
City website
Composition data
Population in 2013:645,966
Gender:52.1% Female
Race:White 53.9%
African American 24.4%
Hispanic or Latino 17.5%
Asian 8.9%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 0.4%
Two or More 3.9%
Unemployment:5.9%
Median household income:$53,136
High school graduation rate:84.5%
College graduation rate:43.4%
Related Boston offices
Massachusetts Congressional Delegation
Massachusetts State Legislature
Massachusetts state executive offices
Boston is the capital of Massachusetts. As of 2013, its population was 645,966.[1]

City government

The city of Boston utilizes a "strong mayor" and city council system. In this form of municipal government, the city council serves as the city's primary legislative body and the mayor serves as the city's chief executive.

Mayor

The mayor serves as the city's chief executive, and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations.[2] Martin Walsh is the current Mayor of Boston.[3]

City council

The Boston City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.[2]

Membership

Boston's city council has thirteen members. Nine are elected by the city's nine districts, while four are elected at-large.[4] A fill list of current council members can be found here.

Council committees

The Boston City Council features fifteen standing committees, which focus on individual policy and legislative issues. Generally, the drafting of city legislation begins with the committees.[5]

For a list of Boston's committees and committee agendas, see here.

Boards and commissions

A series of advisory boards and commissions that are made up of non-elected citizens, whom city council members have appointed and approved, advises the Boston City Council. The roles of these boards and commissions are to review, debate and comment upon city policies and legislation and to make recommendations to the city council.[6]

For a full list of Boston's city boards and commissions, see here.

Budget

Boston's adopted operating budget for fiscal year 2014 was $2.6 billion.[7]

Contact information

Office of the Mayor
1 City Hall Square, Suite 500
Boston, MA 02201-2013
Phone: (617) 635-4500
Email: mayor@boston.gov

City Council
City and County Building
1 City Hall Square, Suite 550
Boston, MA 02201-2043
Phone: (617) 635-3040
Email: City.Council@cityofboston.gov

To contact individual council members, see here.

Ballot measures

See also: Suffolk County, Massachusetts ballot measures

The city of Austin is in Suffolk County. A list of ballot measures in Suffolk County is available here.

Initiative process

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Massachusetts

Boston has no initiative process.

Lobbying

In 2013, Boston spent a total of $102,262 on federal lobbying. The issues for which the city filed, as well as the numbers of reports, can be seen below.[8]

Federal Lobbying Issues, 2013
Reports Issue
3 Agriculture
3 Environment and Superfund
3 Law Enforcement and Crime
2 Transportation
2 Homeland Security
2 Housing
2 Intelligence
2 Firearms, Guns and Ammunition
2 Disaster and Emergency Planning
1 Health Issues
1 Federal Budget and Appropriations

Public pensions

See also: Massachusetts public pensions

According to a 2010 report published at Northwestern University, Boston is one of the ten municipalities with the largest amount of unfunded pension liabilities. Nationwide there is $574 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for local pension plans, and this is in addition to the $3 trillion in debt facing state-sponsored pension plans.[9] The report states that the pension plans could be out of money as early at 2025.[9]

Municipality
(number of plans)
Liabilities, Stated Basis, June ’09 ($B) Liabilities (ABO), Treasury Rate Net Pension Assets ($B) Unfunded Liability ($B) Unfunded Liability / Revenue Unfunded Liability per Household ($)
Boston (1) 7.4 11 3.6 7.5 430% 30,901

Website evaluation

See also: Evaluation of Massachusetts city websites
Grade2.pngB-
Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits
{{{1}}}
Contracts P
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Lobbying P
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Public Records N
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Local Taxes
{{{1}}}

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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Agendas and minutes are available for City Council Meetings.[10]
  • The budget is posted for fiscal years 2006 to 2011, with a proposed budget for 2012.[11]
  • Building permit forms are available on the website,[12] and zoning information[13]
  • The mayor and city council officials contact information are available via a quick search on the contact page.[14]
  • Provides information on City of Boston property taxes.[15] More tax information is detailed in that year's budget.[16]
  • The site features a simple, effective search bar that made finding most information easy and quick.
  • Contract bigs and vendor letters are posted.[17]
  • The most recent audit and past audits are disclosed online.[18]
  • Some information on public employee salaries is disclosed, and so are the collective bargaining agreements.[19][20]
  • Campaign finance reports are disclosed by the city council.[21]

The bad

  • Information is not available for who to contact and how to obtain public records.
  • Lobbying information and ethics is not noted, nor is membership to a government sector lobbying association.
  • There is no checkbook register available.
  • Information on approved vendor contracts over $10,000 is not posted online.

See also

External links

References

  1. U.S. Census, "State and County Quick Facts," accessed on September 15, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 City of Boston, "Government," accessed on September 15, 2014
  3. City of Boston, "Office of the Mayor," accessed on September 15, 2014
  4. City of Boston, "City Council," accessed on September 15, 2014
  5. City of Boston, "Boston City Council Committees, 2013-14," accessed on August 29, 2014
  6. City of Boston, "Boards and Commissions," accessed on August 18, 2014
  7. City of Boston, "2014 Budget Summary," accessed on September 15, 2014
  8. Open Secrets, "City of San Francisco, CA," accessed on September 8, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kellog Business School at Northwestern University, "The Crisis in Local Government Pensions in the United States," Oct. 12, 2010
  10. City of Boston, "Agendas and Minutes," accessed on September 15, 2014
  11. City of Boston, "Budget," accessed on September 15, 2014
  12. City of Boston, "Building Permits," accessed on September 15, 2014
  13. City of Boston, "zoning information," accessed on September 15, 2014
  14. City of Boston, "City of Boston contact page," accessed on September 15, 2014
  15. City of Boston, "taxes," accessed on September 15, 2014
  16. City of Boston, "City of Boston FY 2011 Budget," accessed on September 15, 2014
  17. City of Boston, "Contract bids," accessed on September 15, 2014
  18. City of Boston, "Audits," accessed on September 15, 2014
  19. City of Boston, "Salaries," accessed on September 15, 2014
  20. City of Boston, "Collective Bargaining Agreements," accessed on September 15, 2014
  21. City of Boston, "Campaign Finance," accessed on September 15, 2014