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City Council leaves FY14 budget unscathed

June 6, 2014 |

By Carley Dangona

WEST SPRINGFIELD – The City Council passed the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget without making one cut.
At its regular meeting on June 2, the council voted 8 to 1 in favor of the FY14 budget. District 2 Councilor Lida Powell wanted to cut the salary of the Cartograph Manager for the Department of Public Works (DPW) from $42,000 to $35,000.

The position was created in the FY14 budget to utilize the software, already installed, to its full capacity to streamline operations for the DPW. This was the only cut proposed by the council.

“It is imperative to pay for the skills necessary for this position,” Paul Marshall, administrator of the Information & Technology Systems Department, said. “My recommendation was to pay $50,000. You can’t cut this.” He explained the salary is $13,500 less than the same position in Westfield.

“Within one year, this person should be hired and trained, or I will cut it from the next fiscal year budget,” At-large Councilor Bridget Fiala said.

Robert Colson, DPW director, said, “The goal is to track our assets to make proper financial decisions.”

He explained that not all work can be documented in the system currently and the position is needed to create “behind-the-scenes applications” so all DPW workers can document their projects remotely utilizing the department’s iPads.

Colson highlighted the fact that none of the pumping stations, manholes or catch basins can be tracked. He noted the fire hydrants and gate valve boxes can be and that the system has been successful in tracking the progress of and billing for work orders.

District 3 City Councilor George Condon III said, “Sometimes, we have to spend money to save money in the long run.”

He added that the town had undergone a feasibility study that cited the position as the “next step” for the DPW to increase its productivity. “Why are we spending that money if we’re not taking the advice?” Condon asked.

After Powell’s motion failed, the council continued its budget review with very little discussion and no further proposed cuts.

At-large City Councilor George Kelly, said, “I scrutinized this budget. It’s the most impressive use of our money in a long, long time. It’s been a pleasant experience this year. It’s been a dream working with the mayor.”

Vice President Brian Griffin noted that the FY14 budget process was “very smooth” and that Mayor Edward Sullivan was present for all the council’s subcommittee meetings regarding the document. “This is one of the few times we haven’t bonded for capital improvements,” he said.

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