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News From...The City of Boston

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Thursday Aug 4, 2016

The City of Boston website has a new look.
The City of Boston website has a new look.  

Introducing a new and more friendly Boston.gov!
Check it out using the link boston.gov. The City of Boston the launches Boston.gov, the redesigned digital front door for the City of Boston. The website features significant changes to the visual design, organization, and underlying technology of the City's website. The new site was designed with accessibility at the forefront. And Boston.gov is now also optimized for any device and screen size.

Some key features of the redesign users will see are:

Design: Boston.gov features a new brand and visual identity for the City of Boston. The brand guidelines for the new site have been made publicly available.

Organization: The new site features Guides, which curate content from across departments based on how residents live their lives, such as moving or owning a car.

Language: Content throughout the site has been re-written in a more welcoming, human tone.

Technology: The site is built on Drupal, an open source content management system which allows the City to utilize a large ecosystem of developers in adapting the site to users' changing needs.


Early voting for Nov. 8 presidential election
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that Boston's Board of Election Commissioners unanimously voted on Wednesday in favor of the Election Department's plan for 27 "one-day" early voting sites (three in each of the city's nine council districts), in addition to daily early voting at City Hall during the early voting period.

"Boston is proud to support early voting, and we have worked hard on a comprehensive plan that will allow many of our residents to vote at a time convenient for their work and family schedule," said Mayor Walsh. "Whenever we are able to expand access to the ballot, we make our democracy stronger."

For the first time Boston will be able to allow voters to cast their ballots early from October 24, 2016 through November 4, 2016 at 5:00 p.m., for theNovember 8 Election.

Voters may also request an early voting ballot by mail, and may return them in person at City Hall or by mail. Unlike Absentee Voting, an excuse or reason is no longer needed to vote early.

During the early voting period, City Hall will be Boston's main early voting site, with voting daily during normal business hours (9 a.m to 5 p.m.). City Hall will also be open on five evenings for early voting.

During the early voting workweek the plan calls for three district/neighborhood sites each day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Those locations will be open from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. in the evenings.

On Saturday October 29, there will be nine early voting locations open simultaneously in each city council district open from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m.

All early voting sites will be equipped with electronic poll books for voter check-in; and staffed with between eight and ten poll workers. All ballots styles will be available at every early voting locations, so voters are able to visit any site that they find to be convenient.

All early voting locations are accessible to voters with disabilities, and equipped with AutoMark machines to help voters who need that form of assistance marking their ballots.

At the end of each day, all voted ballots will be secured in a vault at City Hall to be counted on November 8, 2016 (Election Day).

Mayor Martin J. Walsh's Fiscal Year 2017 budget provided $670,000 to implement early voting, which includes resources for a citywide marketing campaign and long term investments such as electronic poll books that will be useful in future elections.

"We thank Mayor Walsh for his support on this important initiative that will give more citizens the opportunity to vote," said Boston Election Chairman Dion Irish. "I thank the public for providing the input that has us to this point in our planning process. Now our efforts and attention will now be focused on early voting marketing and operational plans."

Under the law passed by the Legislature in 2014 that authorizes early voting, municipalities are required to have at least one early voting site open during normal business hours. The law gives municipalities the option of providing additional early voting locations outside of City Hall, as well as voting hours in the evenings and weekends during the early voting period. The law further requires an early voting period every two years prior, to the November general election, based on the State Election Cycle.


Senior Citizen Property Tax Extension
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the extension of the Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement program. The tax work-off abatement law allows a city or town to establish a program giving property owners 60 years or older the opportunity to volunteer services to their city or town in exchange for a reduction in property tax.

A five year extension of the program was recently approved by the City Council and signed by the Mayor and allows qualifying seniors to receive a credit of up to $1,000 toward their real estate tax liability. It also gives residents an opportunity to make meaningful contributions at the Boston Center for Youth and Families (BCYF) community centers, public libraries, public schools and City Hall. In addition, significant changes were made to expand this vital program by increasing the income limits to $40,000 for an individual and $55,000 for a couple, doubling the number of seniors who can participate in the program, and expanding the amount of time participants have to complete their hours.

Applications are available at the city's Commission on Affairs of the Elderly and are due by August 1, 2016. Applications were mailed for the FY17 Senior Citizen Property Tax Abatement Work-Off Program to over 2,200 eligible seniors including participants from last year as well as potential new candidates. Interested older adults are encouraged to call the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly at 617-635-4366 for additional information and to request an application.

"Extending and expanding our senior citizen tax abatement program is a continuation of the City's commitment to providing resources and financial assistance to our seniors," said Mayor Walsh. "I am dedicated to ensuring all seniors can live comfortably in their homes. As a city, we are committed to giving back and improving the quality of life for our seniors."

The Senior Citizen Property Tax Work-Off Abatement Program is managed through a partnership between the city's Assessing Department and the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly. The City of Boston administers the tax abatement, keeping track of hours worked and crediting the resident for each hour worked. According to State Law, the hourly wage cannot exceed minimum wage.

The Property Tax Work Off Program is one of many programs the city offers to help older homeowners. Other programs eligible seniors can access include 10 percent discount on both Basic and Digital Starter Cable TV;continued support for Senior Basic Lifeline cable service at $5.00/month for existing customers and Internet Essentials high-speed service for $9.95/month; and access to discounted equipment and training programs.

Other recent initiatives for seniors include the Comcast Cable legacy senior discount, which was finalized in 2015. The agreement Mayor Walsh brokered with Comcast expanded senior discount opportunities for cable TV and internet while preserving the legacy senior discount package for existing customers.

"Boston has a diverse and growing older adult population," said Emily Shea, Commissioner of Affairs of the Elderly. "Under Mayor Walsh's leadership we have made a commitment to be an Age-Friendly City. The expansion of the Property Tax Work Off Program Boston is an important Age-Friendly accomplishment, and the City is eager to continue its work on behalf of our senior residents."

In June, the City's Commission on Affairs of the Elderly released data from its Age-Friendly Boston Initiative. The Age-Friendly Boston project challenges the city's public agencies, community groups, businesses, cultural, educational and religious institutions to consider how changes to policy and practice can enhance the quality of life for Boston's aging residents. The report focuses on Boston residents' feedback on growing older in Boston and indicates that a majority of residents want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. This tax abatement extension is being implemented by the City of Boston to ensure the City's seniors can age comfortably in their homes and is an example of the city responding to the needs of older residents.

Open Newbury Street Sunday August 7th!
Mayor Martin J. Walsh has announced "Open Newbury Street" for Sunday, August 7, 2016. From 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Newbury Street will become a pedestrian-only walkway, closing to vehicles to allow pedestrians the opportunity to use the full width of the street. Newbury Street will be pedestrian-only from Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue.

Follow along on twitter for updates using #OpenNewbury

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