City makes cuts in proposed budget

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By Jesse Osbourne

The Springfield city council presented the first reading of the 2011-12 budget on June 14 at the regular scheduled meeting. The proposed budget comes in at $2,163, 885
The upcoming proposed budget is $87,956 less than last fiscal year’s proposed budget. Expenditures across the board were slashed to compensate for the smaller budget.
Mayor Dr. John W. Cecconi provided a written message to go with the first reading of the budget.
“Fiscal responsibility is our job, and making some dramatic cuts was necessary for this year,” he wrote. “Changing the way we do business without disrupting services or raising tax rates was a necessity, and with revenues remaining steady but unpredictable, we anticipate that this fiscal year will prove to be challenging for all department heads and for us as elected officials.”
Cecconi pointed out that the equipment account had been depleted, but said the current budget should allow to replenish that account, pending on occupational tax revenue.
“Employees were not given a salary increase, which is not what we had hoped for, but all that this budget could afford,” he wrote. “Additionally, resorting to seasonal employees has considerably saved on salaries and fringe benefits.”
The biggest hit was felt in the public works department, with a $61,675 difference from last fiscal year’s expenditures.
In the finance / budget committee’s list of recommendations, utilizing seasonal employees in the parks and public works departments resulted in two lay-offs.
Those same departments also faced the discontinuation of their uniform service, however a $100 stipend will be provided annually to full-time employees instead.
The administration budget also took a hit, with a $37,378 difference.
The dispatch department will see a $32,238 difference from last year.
The park budget will reflect a $22,376 difference, while Main Street / Renaissance will have $19,879 less to work with in the coming year. The fire department will have $11,375 less than the previous fiscal year.
The appropriations for city property went up $8,396, while legal appropriations went up $900.
Projected revenue is nearly the same as the previous year, however, the balance from the previous year differs significantly.
The 2010-11 proposed budget saw a previous balance of $323,741, whereas the projected previous balance for the 2011-12 budget is $234,885.
Revenue from city license’s is projected to be down $40,000 from last year, while Main Street / Renaissance revenue is projected to be down $5,000.
Occupational tax revenue has been projected to go up by $25,000. Miscellaneous revenue is projected to be up by $10,000.

Other items on the finance / budget committee recommendations list include:
• A new purchasing policy that requires the mayor, city administrator or treasurer to sign off on all purchases over $500 prior to making the expenditure. Purchases over $1,000 will require city council approval before the purchase is made. In the event of an emergency, such as equipment breaking down, the mayor will be given the authority to approve the purchase.
• A new mandatory employee participation in city-provided health insurance at a rate of 25 percent for all employees and all levels of coverage.
• A change in the maximum allowable vacation leave carryover for employees.
• Holiday pay will be paid out at the time the holiday occurs. Holiday pay can no longer be converted into vacation leave time.
• Cell phones will no longer be provided or paid for by the city for employees who have a city-listed cell phone. The city will reimburse $25 monthly to employees on a quarterly basis, effective March 1, 2011.
• Police personnel will be required to begin foot patrols.
• The city will review its phone services with AT&T’s essex system.
• Grant donations were approved to SWEDA for $80,000, the Chamber of Commerce for $5,000 and the rescue squad for $9,000. The chamber donation will come from the city’s tourism portion of the budget.
• The implementation of an evaluation system for all employees on a bi-annual or  annual basis.
• A reduction of travel expenses by all departments by 50 percent, unless travel is considered mandatory training or certification.
• The implementation of a complaint log by all city employees and a tracking system so that all issues can be resolved or receive proper action.

Other issues that could be implemented during the upcoming fiscal year are:
• The review of potential annexation to increase population for city and revenues through occupational tax.
• The sale of surplus properties.
• The consideration of holding a public hearing when property tax rates are established to allow for the small increase in property tax revenues.

Council members of the committee include Debbie Wakefield, Lisa Haydon and Paul Borders.
The second reading of the budget will be presented at a special-called meeting on June 28 at 8 a.m. at city hall.