Wednesday night the Springfield City Council ratified Mayor Domenic Sarno’s nearly $572 million budget for the next fiscal year. As in past years, about sixty percent of the city’s revenue comes from state aid – which is used primarily for funding the school department. The city is also receiving about 5 million dollars from MGM Resorts, as part of an agreement with Mayor Sarno to build a downtown casino. That agreement is up for voter referendum on July 16th, and is pending a decision by the state’s gambling board.
Sarno says the new budget modestly increases spending and revenue over last year.
“We were able to continue to move on some important investments and I’ve been able to do this without any layoffs, and I keep basic core services maintained,” says Sarno.
The budget eliminates some vacant city positions, instead of filling them. But mowing and maintenance at ten city parks will be restored after being slashed last year, and library funding will see a 15 percent increase allowing most branches to stay open 30 hours a week. Assistant library director John Ramsay says the budget increase will fund additional staff.
“Instead of our staff having to split time between two different branches everyday, they will be able to focus their attention on one branch. We’ll need to hire a variety of staff to counteract the effect of budget cuts and layoffs and things that have happened over the years,” says Ramsay.
Ramsay says two branches will now be used as adult education centers, rather than housing permanent collections. Also at the City Council meeting, President James Ferrara proposed cutting 32 city positions filled by people who live outside Springfield, in an attempt to more strongly enforce the city’s residency requirement, but none of those cuts were enacted.