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Boston getting its fiscal, political houses in order

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Boston, stalled for months in fiscal and political confusion, is finally beginning to move forward. In the past week:

* Mayor Kevin H. White, acceding to the stubborn demands of the City Council, has resubmitted a version of the budget that yields up some of his authority over city finances and rehires most of the policemen and firefighters laid off earlier.

* The mayor announced the award of the long-awaited cable television contract--one of the last remaining franchises among America's major cities--to Cablevision Systems of Woodbury, N.Y.

* The development of Bird Island Flats, the controversial piece of filled harbor land at Bostonhs Logan Airport, will finally go forward as the Massachusetts Port Authority (the semi-independent agency that runs the airport) and the state (whose governor, Edward J. King, once headed Massport and began the land-filling operations) have ended years of bitter feuding over the construction plans.

Although the city's fiscal year began July 1, the budget has been delayed by wrangling between mayor and councilors.

The budget process is customarily an anguished one in a city famous for political infighting. It was made worse than usual this year because of serious overspending in the school department, a court-ordered repayment of property taxes to owners overassessed in prior years (the so-called "Tregor" case), and Proposition 2 1/2 (the voter-approved measure trimming property taxes statewide).

Last spring, in fact, the mayor spoke of bankruptcy--although the city reached July 1 with $72 million in the bank, and the mayor's critics spoke of scare tactics.

The latest proposal, if adopted by both the City Council and (since it makes significant changes in the law) the state Legislature, promises to smooth the process.


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