Briefings: Springfield City Council Cancels Budget Meeting…
Less than twelve hours before it was scheduled to take up Mayor Domenic Sarno fiscal year 2017, the Springfield City Council cancelled its budget meeting scheduled for Tuesday night.
The cancellation, while last-minute, was not unexpected. Several councilors had expressed concerns about where resources had been allocated or were dissatisfied at the attention paid to the city’s mounting pension liabilities.
Sarno, for his part, expressed disappointment with the Council’s move. As is common with his budget presentations, the mayor was scheduled to appear before the Council Tuesday evening.
“Unfortunately, the City Council has decided to cancel their scheduled meeting for tonight” on the budget, Sarno said in a statement. The mayor also registered disapproval at the prospect of the Council cutting his budget.
Though Sarno noted that the body had nearly a month to review the budget, state law gives the Council 45 days to review it.
Seven councilors put together a request to delay the budget vote until they had time to review new pension contribution information that recently came out.
“The information on the pension liability has changed since the budget book came out,” Ward 7 Councilor and Finance Committee Chair Timothy Allen told WMassP&I in a phone interview. “There’s a new funding schedule that was approved since we received the budget.”
While the changes to the funding schedule would not affect fiscal year 2017. But the next year, the city’s contribution ratchets up 14% or about $5 million more next year. Additional increases would be included in succeeded. There are other nuances that may affect those numbers further as well as $4 million less in one-time funds for the overall budget.
“We all just better get straight on it” before the Council approves the budget. “This isn’t about whether we can afford the ’17 number. ” Allen said. “What this is about is that we are last in the state for pension funding.”
That requires both an understanding of the figures and action now to protect the city and “the committments we’ve made to employees,” he observed.