Boston Globe columnist Brian McGrory wrote about a special city sales tax in Scottsdale, Az., that provided enough money to hire more police officers. Based on that idea, Sam Yoon, a member of the Boston City Council today is proposing a .5 percent sales tax in Boston, with all of the proceeds dedicated to public safety programs. If successful, the sales tax on goods sold in Boston would rise from 5 percent to 5.5 percent and reap, Yoon estimates, an additional $35 million a year. Yoon’s new mantra is “A nickel for public safety.” In other words, for every $10 in consumer spending in Boston, there’d be a nickel tax for more police officers, prosecutors, and social programs to get potential troublemakers off the streets.
Mayor Thomas Menino already has his own proposal to add 1 percent to the meals tax to help defray property taxes. “It’s a more complex issue than just that,” Tom Menino said of the public safety designation. “It should be a quality-of-life tax.” If this summer is as bloody as some officials fear, says McGrory, the bet here is that commuters, diners, tourists, and other assorted visitors will not only be glad to pay for safety, they’ll demand to.