| G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – Mayor Domenic Sarno was one of the mayors from around the country who were selected to participate in a conference call with William Kirkland, special assistant and deputy director of Intergovernmental Affairs to President Donald J. Trump on March 22.
His reaction to the conversation? “I’ll tell you it was a good meeting,” Sarno told the press after the call.
“They mentioned we may not agree on everything but wanted to get to know us,” Sarno added.
The subject of the 45-minute session was the mayors’ reactions to the proposed Trump budget, Sarno said the mayors were “all on the same wavelength about the CDBG.”
The Trump Administration has proposed cutting completely the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Sarno noted the city of Springfield receives $4 million in such funds that are used for a variety of projects.
He called it “a life line” to cities.
About $60 million or 10 percent of the city’s budget comes from the federal government, Sarno noted.
The mayor said job creation was also discussed.
“We told them the tools we need to create jobs,” he said.
School Superintendent Daniel Warwick was among the mayor’s cabinet members who sat in on the talk.
Sarno said Kirkland was “intrigued” by the Empowerment Zone used by the School Department to allow middle schools greater flexibility to customize curriculum and programs.
Kirkland also expressed interest in the city’s 3C police effort and Sarno stressed the importance of federal grants for that program.
Sarno who described himself as a “moderate Democrat” said he wanted to work with the Trump Administration in order to secure funds for the city.
He added, “I’m not going to thumb my nose” at the president.
Sarno also said he will be one of 50 mayors invited to participate in the next conference call that will address infrastructure needs.