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Menino, Birmingham agree on fee plan
By Meg Vaillancourt, Globe Staff, 7/15/2000
"If it's a game-day thing, tied directly to the game, that's entirely different from what they're talking about," Cellucci said. "But for these three Democrats to say let's raise taxes on working men and women who have to drive to Boston, I say no way."
Birmingham declined to comment on his talks yesterday with the mayor and the mayor's chief of staff, James Rooney.
But according to sources, the Senate president, who has consistently backed the team's ballpark bid, was supportive of the mayor's parking surcharge idea. He expressed concern, though, that the governor's threatened veto could present too tough a challenge to surmount with only two weeks left in the legislative session.
House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran was unavailable for comment on the Boston parking surcharge yesterday. On Thursday, he expressed reservations, but said he would consider the idea. Finneran may prefer user fees more directly related to the Red Sox project, such as ticket surcharges, sources said.
The proposed parking surcharge is one of several revenue options that have been the subject of intense negotiations in recent weeks as city, state, and team officials struggle to craft a ballpark bill before the Legislature adjourns July 31. The revenues are needed to to meet Menino's demand for a dollar-for-dollar payback of any city funds used for the project.
Red Sox chief John Harrington has been seeking a meeting with Menino, Finneran, Birmingham, and Cellucci in a last-ditch effort to pass a ballpark plan this year. But the political leaders have resisted scheduling the meeting until they have a broad consensus on a financing plan.
With Menino, Birmingham, and possibly Finneran in agreement on using parking surcharges as part of the ballpark plan, Cellucci's opposition could be a critical factor in the continuing negotiations.
Cellucci's veto threat was a blow to city officials, who had hoped to overcome his opposition by casting the measure as a local-option bill, which would give cities and towns the choice of enacting parking fees to help pay for tourist and recreational projects. Since the fees could be imposed only by local governments, Cellucci would not be breaking his no-new-taxes pledge, they argued.
Yesterday, however, Cellucci insisted the parking fees would be the equivalent of a new tax.
Cellucci acknowledged that he supported parking fees to help build a new stadium for the New England Patriots. But he noted that those fees are imposed only on about 30 days a year and are limited to lots within three miles of the stadium.
Several months ago, the Red Sox suggested a game-day parking fee as a revenue package to meet Menino's condition that all city funds invested in the ballpark project be repaid.
However, such a limited surcharge would raise only $2 million to $3 million a year. The city needs $9 million to $12 million a year to recoup its investment in acquiring the proposed ballpark site. A citywide parking surcharge of 35 cents a day per parking space could generate more than $12 million each year for the city, sources said.
Cellucci said yesterday that he would support transferring several other taxes to help the city recoup its investment.
Cellucci also argued that the state should build the large parking garage included in the Sox plan and use the $6 million a year in new revenue to pay back the city. But Finneran has said he would not share garage revenue with the Sox or the city if the state builds the facility.
Also yesterday, Red Sox officials unveiled a new ballpark design aimed at encouraging neighborhood support for the project. In place of a massive wall in the original design, the plan now calls for a series of small retail shops and cafes on Boylston Street. There are also wider sidewalks, reduced building heights, and more pedestrian ways, the team said. While supporters touted the improvements, critics said the changes were not enough to secure their support.
oston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Senate President Thomas F. Birmingham tentatively agreed yesterday on a plan to use a citywide parking surcharge to help finance a new Fenway Park, but Governor Paul Cellucci threatened to veto any measure that includes the fee.
Underscoring the strength of his opposition, Cellucci also pledged to veto a bill that would give local governments the option to impose new parking fees.
However, the governor said he would agree to a limited parking surcharge to help fund the team's proposed $627 million ballpark project if it were imposed only on game days in the area around Fenway Park.
This story ran on page C01 of the Boston Globe on 7/15/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.
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