CITY LOOKS TO GREEN IN CASH CRUNCH

Springfield budget director William McCarty had mixed news for the city council during a Tuesday budget update. On the plus side, the city has a $28 million fund balance, which amounts to 23% of the city budget, a record amount, McCarty said. That will help cushion a blow that McCarty said remains uncertain because the length and severity of the pandemic can't be predicted. "It doesn't mean there isn't going to be some pain," said McCarty, who didn't rule out layoffs that he characterized as a last resort. "It's imperative that we leave some of our reserves in place." The city has slowed hiring, he said, and has 703 of 727 positions filled. He said he expects to realize $3 million in savings from unspent money. The city, he says, is considering whether to use proceeds from marijuana taxes to plug the deficit, which could require a policy change. The city last year approved a 3% pot tax that McCarty told the council will raise as much as $40,000 per month. Under the tax measure approved by the council last year, half the money is supposed to go toward reducing pension obligations and the other half is supposed to be used on economic development projects in disadvantaged areas.

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