SPRINGFIELD —Mayor Domenic Sarno released his administration’s budget recommendations for fiscal year 2025, reflecting a nearly 6% increase over last year.

The $928.7 million plan represents an overall increase of 5.8% over the adopted budget for FY24. In the presentation package announced on May 8, Sarno acknowledged that, “While the city is fiscally stronger the ever, [the administration] is cognizant of the looming threat of a potential recession in the near future and the financial hardships many of our citizens are facing.”

City-side budget spending for FY25 comes in at $301.4 million, marking a 3.9% rise from last year while the School Department budget is presented at $627.3 million, a 6.7% increase from FY24 and representing more than two-thirds of the Springfield’s overall operating budget for the coming year.

The city also maintains $69 million in “rainy day” stabilation reserve funds for FY25.

All current city programming is maintained and supported within the budget recommendation with public safety, education and economic development among the highest of priorities side by side with community services and healthy neighborhoods.

Recognizing the efforts of the School Department staff and the leadership of Superintendent Dan Warwick, the presentation noted the continuing rise in graduation rates and decrease in dropouts since 2012, despite challenges presented by the COVID‐19 pandemic as well as the addition of and the continuation of 17 preschool classrooms districtwide during FY24.

Investment in schools will continue in the budget proposal including the potential rebuilding or replacement German Gerena Community School. Collaboration with The Massachusetts School Building Authority, already at more than $750 million in new and renovated schools in the city will also proceed into FY25.

Emergency Services and Public Safety will see sustainability and advance through additional fire and police hires to balance attrition and the funding for Fire Department apparatus and first responder equipment including non-lethal apprehension devices, behavioral and mental health responses and the continued purchase of Narcan to address opioid-related incidents.

The FY25 budget proposal also maintains the current operating status of the Springfield Emergency Communications Department, the direct link for the city’s Public Safety employees.

Economic Development efforts for the FY25 budget proposal include a growth in market rate housing and continued work towards the creation of the “Main Street and Convention Center Overlay District” to increase development around the MGM casino and MassMutual Center.

Current services for veterans and the elderly will remain fully funded with the recent additions in staffing and partnerships with organizations that saw the placement of 30 unhoused veterans into permanent living situations in FY24. Meal services at senior centers as well as delivery for those homebound will continue as will activities and transportation as part of the city’s elder affairs programs.

The city’s libraries will see continued funding for all neighborhood branches to allow reading, literacy and portable Wi-Fi access programs to extend through FY25.

Parks & Recreation programs, including the partnering of Springfield’s Clean City initiative and ROCA Western Massachusetts’ Clean Sweep will carry over into the new budget year as will tree stump removal and upgrades at city parks and playing fields.

Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Cathy Buono praised Sarno’s leadership in terms of the retention of services while remaining focused on economic preservation.

“This FY25 budget is strong and we are proud of our long-term planning and creative investments made to keep our city moving forward while not mortgaging our future,” she said. “Saving our reserves for future years will allow the city to weather a protracted recession and sends a strong message that the city is committed to fiscal sustainability.”

In the presentation, Sarno noted Springfield’s receipt of the Government Finance Officers Association’s Distinguished Budget Award for a 17th consecutive year as well as the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting for the 12th year in a row.

Sarno offered his appreciation to,” all of the city’s cabinet and department heads for their efforts in working to craft budgets that maintain the same level of services for our constituents, while also limiting growth given the uncertain economic times we are facing.”

Following submission and review by the City Council, the budget could come to a vote by the end of May.

bzito@thereminder.com | + posts