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Council approves $348M city budget

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After five budget hearings over several weeks and the adoption of two amendments, Springfield City Council last night passed a $348 million fiscal 2018 budget.

The budget includes an $83 million general fund, the city’s primary operating fund that includes Police and Fire Department operations. Officials said prior-year commitments that consumed most of the projected revenue made balancing a budget challenging. Sales taxes also are projected to come in lower because of slowing retail revenues.

“The budget is a challenge, as we look at the shortage that we are experiencing with the sales tax revenues,” Mayor Ken McClure said.

The $348 million budget represents a 0.9 percent increase from fiscal 2017, said Finance Director David Holtmann. Fiscal 2018 sales tax revenues are estimated to be 1.3 percent lower than the fiscal 2017 budget.

McClure noted sales tax revenue is slipping because of the move toward online purchases, though he still expressed his confidence in the budget.

“The budget is sound,” McClure said. “Given the resources that we have, we have taken a good, sound approach, so I commend the staff for working through that on difficult issues.”

The budget passed 8-1 with Councilwoman Kristi Fulnecky in opposition.

“For $348 million, I really feel like this is a people’s budget,” Fulnecky said. “We publicly only talked about it for three hours at the end of May and I really feel that we should be involved earlier in the process just to get more information.”

Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson countered by saying Fulnecky had been absent from two budget meetings. McClure added city charter requires the city manager to provide a proposed budget by May 1 each year. Council then has 60 days to review and act on the proposal.

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