In the News

Mayor Sarno's Address on Return to Local Governance

Monday, June 22, 2009

One week from today the state imposed Finance Control Board will hold its last meeting and the City of Springfield will once again return to self-governance.

This is an historic time for the City.  When the Springfield Finance Control Board was created, the City was in financial crisis; having a Fiscal Year 2005 - $41 million deficit that had resulted in massive layoffs, street lights being shut off and other cuts to basis services.   Today, I am pleased to report that the City is in solid financial shape.  With the help of the Finance Control Board the City has implemented a series of policies and procedures that have restored the City’s fiscal stability and has produced reserves totaling $34.6 million.  The City also has $46.8 million set aside to payback the state loan through the Promise Program.  

A key element to securing the long term financial success of our City was the extension of the repayment term of the State’s $52 million no-interest loan.  I want to take the opportunity to thank the Springfield legislative delegation for helping to secure this extension, which will create an annual savings to the City of approximately $7 million.  Your efforts are greatly appreciated and your contribution to our solid financial status is very significant.

Over the past several months I have been working with the Finance Control Board on a roadmap that we have been following precisely and aggressively so that the City would once again, become a municipal government that operates on its own with transparency, fundamental integrity and consistent fiscal discipline. I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Control Board, Finance Control Board Executive Director and Acting Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Stephen P. Lisauskas and Assistant Executive Director Patricia Vinchesi for their ongoing commitment to our City and their assistance and expertise in helping to restore our City to one that is fiscally stable.

I also want to thank the City department heads that are here today and extend to all City employees my gratitude for their ongoing hard work and dedication to our City.  It has not been an easy time for them with the state budget cuts and resulting sacrifices they have had to make.  Thank you for your ongoing patience.   To my internal staff, a special thank you for the hard work you do every day for the residents of this City.

Additionally, I want to thank the neighborhood residents and business leaders who have joined us today.  Your ongoing commitment and belief in our City is what has carried us through to where we are today.  Our City’s 17 neighborhoods are the backbones of our City’s success.  Thank you to the businesses who have hung in there through these tough economic times and for your belief in our City and our residents.

Like many municipalities across the country, Springfield has been faced with significant budget problems over the past few years. I am pleased to serve as the first Mayor to submit a City budget since the Finance Control Board was put in place five years ago to oversee the city’s finances.  The Fiscal Year 2010 operating budget demonstrates the restraint, resourcefulness and principle rules of government under which the City must operate as we redefine our independence and shape a bright and healthy future.  I call on my colleagues on the City Council and School Committee to put political differences aside and to maintain sound fiscal policy so that we continue to maintain our fiscal stability.  Our collective mission is much more important than individual political agendas.   

Our City’s finance team was recently awarded the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).

While most municipalities across the country were receiving downgrades in their bond status, the Country’s top named bond rating companies, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s  found confidence in my administration.  Standard and Poor’s gave the City a full level upgrade on its issuer credit rating to BBB+ status with a stable outlook.  Moody’s also issued a positive finding granting an enhanced rating to Springfield reflecting an improved financial position, positive operating results, and significant progress towards establishing sound financial and administrative management practices.  These upgrades will save the City significant money.

The City is not out of the woods yet.  Springfield, like communities across the country continues to feel the effects on the national economic downturn.  The City will get through this and we will not waive the white flag of surrender.  We will continue to move towards fiscal stability and remain fiscally prudent.

The City of Springfield is a great place to work and live.  Springfield continues to be the cultural center of Western Massachusetts.  Our world-class museums, parks, the Springfield Symphony, City Stage and historic Armory rival attraction in cities twice our size.  Our Basketball Hall of Fame is a one-of-a-kind, spherical museum that features legends of the game’s past, present and future.  The spectacular Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is a magical place that brings out the inner child in all who visit.

We also have a great cross section of very large and small businesses that have a long standing commitment to our City and provide our citizens with thousands of jobs.  We will continue to work with these businesses who are so vital to our overall financial health.

The City of Springfield’s fiscal recovery is a story of success.  As I thought about what I would say today, there is some irony.  I served on the first Control Board after its creation in 2004 and now, I have the honor and privilege of serving this City as Mayor as the Control Board prepares to dissolve and we return to local governance. The future success of our City will depend greatly on a strong financial base.

It is an honor and privilege to serve as your Mayor and I look forward to helping this City accomplish great things now and in the future.

God Bless You and our great City of Springfield.

—Mayor Domenic J. Sarno

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