Two home rule petitions are headed to the state Legislature to help the city with a fiscal crisis, but one of them is watered down and city councilors aren’t sure if either will pass.
The City Council supported a move to change school spending, shifting the city’s costs, like busing and other noneducational expenses, to the school budget.
Voting for the home rule petition to bypass unions, employees contribute 40 percent to health insurance:
A move to bypass labor unions in order to have employees and retirees contribute more toward health insurance met resistance. Councilors voted for the higher contribution, 40 percent, from employees, but not retirees.
If approved by the Legislature, both petitions would be effective on the date of passage.
Mayor James E. Harrington asked for the measures to ease layoffs.
He anticipates a $28 million shortfall and 300 layoffs, including 180 in the police and fire departments.
“This is an extraordinary time,” said Councilor-at-Large Thomas Brophy. “We have to take drastic measures.”
He made three amendments, allowing the city to continue to negotiate with the unions, even if the home rule petition passes; creating a sunset clause, meaning the current rate of contribution will resume on July 1, 2012; and making the legislation effective upon passage.
“At this point, we needed to get something to Boston,” said Ward 3 Councilor Dennis Eaniri, one of the six councilors who voted for the legislation. “At least we’ll be heard.”
But, there is no guarantee the legislation will pass both the state Senate and House of Representatives.
“We must work on alternative measures,” he said. “We can’t sit back. I hope the mayor has an alternative plan.”
Eaniri said even if the legislation passes and employees pay 40 percent of their health insurance, there will be layoffs. The only thing the bill would do is reduce the number of layoffs.
“We can’t possibly keep the level of service,” added Brophy. “We hope to preserve as many jobs as possible.”