Boston city councilors agreed yesterday to take a look at how to ensure local companies that get tax breaks actually hire all the people or help fund community programs they promised to when receiving city tax breaks.
Councilor Michelle Wu (at large), who proposed a hearing on the issue, says maybe companies are keeping their word but maybe they're not - there's no current way to know for sure. Just ask the Jamaica Plain teenagers who discovered the owners of Boston Garden had never held any of the fundraisers for local athletics it promised in 1993 in exchange for getting permission for building a new arena.
Wu wants the city to monitor companies that get at least $25,000 n city tax breaks - which can include grants, tax abatements and low-cost transfers of city land - and to post data on their promise compliance on a Web site. She pointed to all the hullabaloo over Amazon's so-called HQ2 process as an example of how important this should be.
Councilor Lydia Edwards (Charlestown, North End, East Boston) said she would go even further: She wants to look at requiring companies that receive any sort of city permission for large projects to pay for a "neighborhood advocate" to watch over their projects and ensure the on-site day-care or other promised benefits are actually carried out.
The next step is for a council committee to hold a public hearing on Wu's proposal and to consider any possible fine tuning before sending it back to the council for a vote.