Ever wonder what "budget cuts" to a city or town really mean? A recent article in the Springfield Republican helps to clarify. Here is a list of the cuts to services that Springfield, MA will have to implement this year to balance their budget:
- Elimination of 31 patrolmen positions in the police department. There are 130 fewer police officers in Springfield today than there were ten years ago.
- Elimination of 12 firefighter positions in the fire department. There are 255 fewer firefighters in Springfield today than there were in 1987.
- Removal of one fire truck from active service.
- Closure of three branches of the public library.
- Elimination of maintenance services to ten city parks.
- Elimination of trash pick-up services to large apartment complexes and commercial buildings.
- Elimination of 96 vacant positions plus 12 additional layoffs in other city departments.
What's causing this? In large part, enormous cuts to general local aid that Springfield and every other city and town in Massachusetts receives from the state. Since 2008, Springfield has lost over $18 million in local aid.
This is no way to run a city, and I fear that Springfield is the canary in the coalmine. Will cities and towns across Massachusetts be facing dreadful options like this in the coming years? Have they already? We need to raise substantial new revenue to invest in our communities, not gradually whittle away at the services that make them great places to work and play. That's what will keep our economy strong and our cities and towns vibrant and livable.