New England news in brief


Marijuana tax revenue estimates vary widely

Taxes on recreational marijuana sales could net the state between $44 million and $82 million in the next fiscal year, according to a new analysis by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. The wide range of the projection, unveiled Wednesday by revenue commissioner Christopher Harding in testimony before state legislators, reflects significant uncertainty on the part of government forecasters about how quickly the pot market will develop. It remains unclear, for example, how many firms will win approval from the Cannabis Control Commission by July 1, 2018, when the fiscal year and recreational marijuana sales are scheduled to begin. It’s also unclear where those cannabis companies will be allowed to operate; well over 100 municipalities in Massachusetts have enacted various limits on the operations of marijuana firms that will grow, process, or sell the drug, and more are expected to vote on such measures next spring. Recreational marijuana will be subject to a total state tax of 17 percent. Municipalities may impose an additional local tax of 3 percent.


Biden to preside at Walsh inauguration

Former vice president Joe Biden will preside at the inauguration for Martin J. Walsh’s second term as Boston’s mayor on New Year’s Day, the mayor’s office announced Wednesday. The incoming Boston City Council will also be sworn in at the Jan. 1 ceremony at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. “Mayor Walsh is a close friend and an incredible public servant,” Biden said in a statement released by the mayor’s office. “I’m honored to be able to preside over his Inauguration next month so that he can continue his tireless work on behalf of the people of Boston.” In the statement, Walsh said he was “humbled that [Biden] will . . . be part of this special day.” Walsh overwhelmingly defeated City Councilor Tito Jackson in a general election last month to win a second term.


Fire Chief dies after collapsing at fire

Montgomery Fire Chief Stephen P. Frye collapsed Tuesday while battling a blaze with his son and other volunteer firefighters and was later pronounced dead at Bay State Noble Hospital in Westfield, officials said. Frye, 59, had responded to a two-alarm blaze at 1524 Southampton Rd. around 11:10 p.m. and collapsed while operating the “initial attack line outside in the rear of the building,” the state Department of Fire Services said. Frye first joined the volunteer department in 1993 and had been chief for 13 years, according to fire services. State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey offered “ . . . heartfelt condolences to the Frye family and the Montgomery and area fire departments on this devastating loss,” according to the statement. Frye was mourned by Michael Morrissey, fire chief in the neighboring town of Russell. “He could lead,” Russell said in an interview, recalling when he and Frye responded to wild fires together. “You felt comfortable working for him and you trusted him.”