City Address emphasizes accomplishments, not crises
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM -- Mayor Susan Dawson's State of the City Address on March 10 followed the Charter to a T -- providing residents with a recap of 2008's accomplishments and briefly touching on the current economic crisis.
She addressed the city from the middle school auditorium full of municipal employees, the School Committee and City Councilors George Bitzas, Jill Messick and Donald Rheault via closed circuit television. Dawson noted the opening of School Street Park, Phase One of the Feeding Hills Sewer Extension Project and the successful absorption of Gov. Deval Partick's $446,795 mid-year cuts as some of Agawam's achievements.
"While the nation is struggling with the economy, we are prevailing," she said. "There is no city that is more prepared to come out of this fiscal crisis."
During an interview with Reminder Publications, Dawson explained that she has met with each department head to discuss their proposed level-funded fiscal year 2010 (FY10) budgets.
She noted that she continues to implement a spending and hiring freeze as cost-saving measures to ensure that the town continues to have a balanced budget. Dawson added that significant decreases in state aid will result in budget cuts, however.
She said at least six positions will be cut from the School Department in addition to 10 retirements.
Dawson added that "educators who've maxed out on their retirement are being offered a $10,000 incentive to retire at the end of this academic year. To date, no one has come forward," she said.
Dawson explained that she's also proposed salary cuts for the mayor, School Committee, City Council and municipal employees. She said if members of municipal government come forward to join her effort, she will offer a 10 percent reduction in her salary.
"I'm not asking for 10 percent from them," Dawson explained, adding that she is requesting that employees decline salary increases for FY10.
She noted that she is also looking at measures to increase city revenue such as fee increases in order to absorb the reduction in state aid.
Dawson said she plans to meet with department heads to discuss any cuts needed later in the budget process.
The mayor must submit a balanced budget to the City Council for approval prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30.