Springfield in worse financial situation than during Great Recession, officials say
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WRSP) —
An expected multi-million dollar budget deficit is putting the capital city in a tough financial situation.
The city's budget director is expecting Springfield to have an $8 million to $9 million budget deficit over the next couple of years.
He says funds from local sales taxes are dwindling.
"Devastating might not be the right word," said Budget Director Bill McCarty. "It's certainly one that I haven't seen since I've been here. Some would argue, my staff that were here at the time, that it's worse than the Great Recession."
McCarty says the city has fewer options to fix its budget problems now than it did during the Great Recession.
"What we're seeing now appears to be permanent," McCarty said. "A permanent change in consumer behavior. A permanent sweep of local government funds from the state of Illinois."
McCarty says they've been trimming millions of dollars from the budget over the past five years, and they're running out of options.
He says they've already eliminated about 100 staff positions over the years and consolidated some city services such as fleet maintenance.
"You can't cut a whole lot more without actually affecting people and services because we're a very lean operation now and therefore there's no more fat to cut," he said.
Mayor Jim Langfelder says raising property taxes to fix money issues is off the table.
"We want to remain competitive," Langfelder said. "When someone moves, a person moves to a new location. That's one of the first things they look at. We're really competitive in the marketplace. We're an affordable place to live and we'll continue to be that in the future."
The mayor expects a strong Christmas shopping season will help bring in more property taxes.
He says various projects across the city, a revitalized downtown and tourism will put the Springfield in a much better position for years to come.
If the city makes cuts to pay for the projected deficit, McCarty says that could very likely involve layoffs at the city.