Financially on ropes, Boston takes another one-two punch

The City of Boston, staggering under recent financial blows, has taken still another one-two punch: * It's been handed a $30 million bill for tax abatements. The state Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision April 24 requiring the city to give refunds to commercial property owners overassessed between 1977 and 1979. This latest amount comes on top of $78 million the city must repay in tax abatements under an earlier ruling.

* And the city has been ordered not to close its school system under any circumstances. The city had threatened not to reopen schools when spring break ended April 27 because the system had exhausted its budget. At the last minute, city lawyers said funds had been found to pay teachers to conduct classes for at least two more days.But Superior Court Judge Thomas R. Morse Jr., noting that the question of how the city funds its schools is "immaterial" to the court, said he would issue an order April 28 requiring schools to stay open.

Hopes that the feuding mayor and City Council might reach a compromise seemed dim after Mayor Kevin H. White again refused April 24 to sign a City Council bill designed to rescue the schools. Earlier measures calling for a $75 million bond issue had come to his office decorated with amendments aimed at shrinking his powers. The council's most recent bill would have allowed Mayor White to borrow $18 million to bail out the city -- with no political strings attached. But the mayor, in the wake of the $30 million tax abatement ruling, said he would need at least $45 million to meet the city's obligations.

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