New Budget Brings Fewer Services To Springfield Residents

As a new, austere city budget kicks in, Springfield residents will face a general decline in infrastructure maintenance.The city budget that went into effect on Sunday was hit by declining tax revenues and increasing fixed expenses. Lee Erdman says is one of the most austere budgets he’s seen in his 42 years as a local government professional.

“We reduced the workforce by, you know, some 364 positions or so. That’s about 24 percent in four years.”

Erdman is Springfield’s chief financial officer. He says a $3 million cut in the city’s operating budget has forced the layoff of 12 workers and the elimination of another 96 vacant positions. 3 library branches were closed this week, and 10 city parks will not be maintained. Al Chwalek is director of public works, who’s department budget has been cut by $900,000. He says his crews will no longer pick up trash at commercial properties or multi-unit residences of four or more units. Street sweeping will be seriously curtailed. And there will be no non-essential sidewalk repairs this year.

“A couple of years ago we eliminated sidewalk replacements, and now we had a crew that would just go around and try to fix these slabs where the tree roots would raise them. That program is completely eliminated and fifty percent of the street sweeping will no longer be conducted. The problem with that is it’s also drivers that we utilize in the wintertime. So I am very, very short drivers now. I now have more trucks than I have drivers.”

And Lee Erdman says he doesn’t except the city’s fiscal situation to improve for at least the next two years without  increases in non-educational state aid and better tax revenues.