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Quarterly report shows city's finances strong

Date: 11/9/2010

Nov. 8, 2010

By Katelyn Gendron

Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- Nov. 3 was "a good news day" for the city's finances, according to Mayor Domenic Sarno.

The mayor, flanked by members of the city's financial team, announced that tax relief might be on the horizon thanks to conservative fiscal management and a $1 million surplus for fiscal year 2011 (FY11). The announcement was made in conjunction with Sarno's release of Springfield's first-ever quarterly financial and performance report.

"Fiscal transparency is essential during difficult economic times. [This document] is a comprehensive overview of the city's finances, continuing my efforts of transparency," Sarno said.

"This is unheard of. This never happened during my days on the City Council," he added of the quarterly report. The document will be delivered to the Council at its Nov. 8 meeting and is also available to the public on the city's Web site,, he noted.

Sarno attributed the good news to the city's commitment to "aggressive tax collections," which has yielded $883,000 in the first quarter of FY11, a healthy stabilization account of $44 million by fiscal year's end, $87.4 million in grant funding and stable property values.

"I'm proposing a FY11 tax levy, which is $4.3 million less than the FY10 levy. This levy reduction is $1 million less than what was planned when the FY11 city budget was adopted," Sarno said, adding that tax bill reductions for homeowners and business owners hasn't happened since 1997.

"Many [communities] will tax to the levy limit but we're not going to do that," he added. Sarno noted that his proposed tax factor, which determines the reduction or increase of tax bills, could be released as early as this week.

Certain expenditures such as overtime, health insurance and others have been placed on a "watch list" in order to ensure a budget surplus, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Lee Erdmann explained.

He noted "performance measures" to improve efficiency and cost-savings strategies have been put in place in conjunction with Sarno's five strategic priorities for the city. Erdmann said, "Twenty of 28 measures are on target or trending positively," including the number of juvenile arrests and adult arrests; the percent of fires responded to within five minutes of dispatch; percent of hosing emergency complaints responded to within one business day; and the recycling rate.

Performance measures in need of improvement include the number of properties purchased through Buy Springfield Now; the percent of housing complaints resolved within 70 days; adult program attendance at libraries; the number of parcels cleaned by the mayor's Clean City Program; and the number of compliance checks on tobacco retailers.

Improvements are being implemented during the second quarter of FY11, Erdmann said.

Sarno said he would release the city's next financial and performance report after the end of the second quarter, Dec. 31.

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