City Councilors Andrea Campbell (Roxbury) and Michael Flaherty (at large), say that for an average of about $23 per resident a year, Boston would be able to build more housing for people being priced out of the city - and help upgrade city parks and historic sites.
The two are backing Boston approval of the Community Preservation Act, a state law that lets communities add a small surcharge to property-tax bills - with additional matching money coming from the state - for specific purposes, including development of affordable housing, purchases of land for open space and maintenance of existing parks and historic sites.
Campbell said the 1% would be added to a property owner's final tax levy for the year - with exemptions for residents who would qualify for low-income housing and for industrial land owners.
The council agreed today to let them hold a hearing that could lead to a referendum question in this fall's election on the proposal.
But City Councilor Bill Linehan, who represents South Boston, which has been particularly hard hit by tax increases this year, said he's wary of a camel-back-breaking straw, that while he's all in favor of more affordable housing and parks, "clearly on the backs of property owners, to add another 1% on top of that just seems to me we should be cautious because we can't just be going to the same well all the time."
Flaherty estimated the measure, allowed by the state Community Preservation Act, would mean roughly $20 million in new revenue targeted at "community" housing and park and historic uses.
Flaherty emphasized he is no tax-and-spender, and jokingly assured fellow councilors he is not "feelin' the Bern." He said 160 Massachusetts communities, including some of the state's wealthiest, already take advantage of the act and that none has repealed it.
In 2001, Boston voters rejected a similar proposal.