SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno is asking state representatives to keep Springfield needs in mind as they determine the Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
Mayor Sarno sent a letter on Friday to the Springfield delegation laying out requests for the city. Some of those requests include increasing unrestricted general government aid. Another top request, to increase Chapter 90 funding to $330 million per year.
Mayor Sarno explained to 22News how this funding would lead to safe and reliable infrastructure throughout the city, “Paving, roadway work… I only have so much money. The more money we can get out of Chapter 90, the more roads I can continue to do and that would be extremely important. Another thing is school busing, everybody thinks it’s paid on the school side, it’s not. It’s paid on my side, the city side. That’s about $35-36 million. If we could get some money toward that it’d be very important, Gateway Cities would benefit from that.”
Sarno additionally is asking for special legislation to be created for the city’s opioid settlement funds along with earmarks to support existing programs.
Mayor Sarno states, “Municipalities across the Commonwealth, especially our Gateway Cities such as Springfield, would greatly benefit from an increase in state aid, especially in our UGGA which saw a 2.7% increase last year from Governor Baker and the state Legislature, and a 2% increase in Governor Healey’s FY24 budget. In addition, due to inflation and an increase in the cost of goods and materials, communities need an increase to our allocation of state Chapter 90 funds to help maintain our local roadways.”
He continued, “Additionally, under Massachusetts General Law (MGL) Chapter 44, Section 53, all money received or collected from any source by a municipality belongs to its general fund and can only be spent after appropriation, unless a general or special law provides an exception. This rule can present accounting challenges for local municipalities when conditional revenue is received, because the law requires this revenue to become part of a municipalities general fund even though it has been earmarked for a specific purpose (e.g., opioid settlement funds). As a result, these funds often become part of the next fiscal year’s free cash certification, creating confusion around how the funds can be used and accounted for. Passage of legislative language to amend MGL Chapter 44, Section 53 (‘general fund revenue exception’), would allow municipalities to keep these monies out of the general fund and allow the creation of a dedicated account for the intended purpose.”
Right now, the Fiscal Year 2024 budget is still in the early stages of the approval process. Once it’s passed by the House, it’ll then be sent to the Senate for consideration.