Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno formally presented to the City Council today [Wednesday] a nearly $572 million budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning July1st. Calling it austere but balanced, Sarno says the proposal includes $7 million from reserves and up to $5 million from the recently negotiated host-community agreement with MGM to build a casino in the city. He says the plan averts layoffs for the first time in his six years in office.
“I’ve tried to preserve services I know that are important to the city and its citizens, residents and businesses which require preserving city jobs where possible.”
The package, however, does contain more than $13 million in cuts, including eliminating 28 vacant positions, 11 in the Police Department. But Sarno says the city will fully fund the current police academy class of 22 recruits. Recreation programs from city parks to pools and splash pads, that were curtailed or shut down last year, will be kept open and maintained this summer. Two of the city’s ten libraries will be closed and re-purposed as adult education centers. But Assistant Library Director John Ramsey says the remaining libraries will be open longer from 18 to 30 hours a week.
“People are constantly coming to library buildings, the central library and the branches, only to find out that they’re closed. They can’t keep track of when they’re open. It will be much more reliable now for residents to have a pretty good sense that if they go a library; it’s going to be open.”
The City Council has until the end of June to cut the budget further or ratify it as is.