Springfield council sets minimum fund balance, finalizes police-city contracts

Springfield council sets minimum fund balance and finalizes police-city contracts

Springfield council addressed many big topics Tuesday night.

The Police Department and city have been in the process of negotiating new terms for several years.

Finally, Tuesday marked the acknowledgment and finalization of their contract.

The contract is for 2015 through February 2018 and includes a retroactive wage increase payout of $1.5 million as well as covers about 230 police officers.

It’s for wage increases of 1.5 percent, 1.75 percent, and 1.75 percent respectively for each year, it also includes a sell-back clause.

The city wanted to reduce the number of holiday time-off hours officers could sell back for pay, but arbitration ruled in favor of police and kept the number at the status quo.

"We were prepared for the amount that was paid out,” said Mayor Jim Langfelder. “And we appreciate the good works of our men and women in blue do for us, you know they keep us protected and safe each and every day and that's what it's about and they received their increase, which was justly deserved."

The $1.5 million payout to officers covers contracts until December 29th of 2017.

The city and police will start bargaining a new contract starting this March.

This will include residency, and whether officers will have to live in the city.

Aldermen approved new language for the City of Springfield’s regulations regarding workplace misbehavior.

Council also approved a so-called 'end of the year' balance of 8 percent.

The mayor said If the budget of about $125 million drops to anywhere between eight and 15 percent of the original budget, the council will be required to take action like raising sales taxes.

In years past, the city had this rule, without it set in stone.

In a week, the city will start their budget hearings, and listen to presentations from 13 departments.

From there, the city will divide their new 2018 budget.

Mayor Jim Langfelder is proposing a sales tax increase to 8.75 percent and telecom tax for a two percent increase to help fund the library.

The budgeting director said Springfield is heading into the new year with a deficit of about $11.5 million.

"We're not in a position where we can be adding anything, no new programs, really no new people,” said Bill McCarty, Budget and Management director. “We’re in the position where we gotta go the opposite direction. We gotta take a look seriously of cutting programs, cutting services, cutting personnel."

Departments vying for a cut, include utilities, human resources, police, and fire.

Three Aldermen voted against the ordinance: Ward 1 Alderman Chuck Redpath, Ward 2 Alderman Herman Senor, and Ward 7 Alderman Joe McMenamin.

Mayor Jim Langfelder said there may be many money challenges ahead, but he declares this is the ‘year of optimism’.

City Council approved the amount of $8.5 million to go into City, Water, Light, and Power. (CWLP)

An amount up that dollar can be used to purchase limestones for filtration of the power plant gases and to reduce health hazards.

There are two bidders on this sale; CWLP said it will go to whoever is the lowest bidder.

Council also approved an amount not to exceed $675,000 to CWLP for heavy equipment maintenance and repairs.

The Mayor said the state is requiring cities to include the term "sexual harassment" in any prohibition by-laws.

He said the specific words need to accompany words that are already established -- rather than just "assault", and "harassment."

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