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FY06 budget approved

By Michelle Kealey

Staff Writer

AGAWAM The City Council has approved the 2006 operating budget for the city of Agawam as it was submitted by Mayor Richard Cohen.

"I am pleased the City Council approved the budget as presented as it meets the needs of the city and the schools," Cohen said. "And, it was done with much thought and hard work."

Cohen explained that the budget process begins in September and is a fairly long process.

"I am always happy when it is over," he said. "It is one of the most tedious and difficult processes the mayor and the departments heads have [to go through]."

The fiscal year 2006 operating budget is $60,441.590, which is higher than FY05, which was $57.192.498.

Cohen explained that the city was able to replace all retiring teachers and have added seven new positions at the schools. The city has also hired a new school resource officer and a third assistant principal at Agawam High School.

In addition, the new budget allows for ambulance services to be continued in Feeding Hills, the addition of one police officer and the replacement of two marked police cruisers.

"I am very glad to report that because of team work, hard work and professionalism by all, Agawam remains fiscally sound," Cohen said.

He added that he did not use any funds from the stabilization account to create the budget. The stabilization account has a balance of over $3 million, according to Cohen.

He explained that creating the budget is a question of being "frugal" and "spending where you need to spend and saving when you have to."

"Right along, I have said that I treat the town's money as I would my very own very, very carefully and will continue to do so in the best interest of the community," Cohen said.