Westfield City Council narrowly passes budget - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Westfield City Council narrowly passes budget

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WESTFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The Westfield City Council narrowly passed the mayor's budget proposal Thursday night.

The 7-6 vote means that there will be no added cuts or layoffs to arguably the three most important departments in the city - education, police and fire.

On one side there is relief that the council passed the $113.3 million budget.

"We'll move on and a new fiscal year starts July 1 and we're ready to do some more good things," said Mayor Dan Knapik.

On the other side, however, there is disbelief.

"We still have an unbalanced budget and I just don't think it's appropriate to pass one," said Westfield City Councilor Chris Keefe.

The City Council's finance committee had proposed a 1.25 percent cut to all city departments to offset a $1 million shortfall.

Knapik said he got letters from police, fire and other departments about the layoffs that would have to go into effect if those cuts were allowed.

"The police department was looking at five patrolman and the fire department was somewhere in the neighborhood of up to three," he said.

The school district faced the biggest potential cuts - nearly $700,000.

Knapik said that's an area he can't see cut.

"We're a level three district, we've hired a superintendent that has a vision to bring us to a much better place and improvement and we need to continue to fund those improvements."

Six city councilors voted against the budget, calling it a "quick fix" that could lead to bigger problems down the road.

"If we pass a budget that's unbalanced this year by $400,000, is it going to be $600,000 next year and $1million after that? We do have a duty to the taxpayers to make sure it's balanced, and just in good in conscience I couldn't vote for that," Keefe said.

But with a narrow margin, the budget passed.

"This is the way the process works and it's not always pretty, but in the end we got to where we needed to go," Knapik said.

City councilors who voted no on the budget also say that passing it means that initiatives like building a new senior center may be put in jeopardy.

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