Greenfield mayor presents $64.87M budget proposal for FY25

Greenfield City Hall.

Greenfield City Hall. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

GINNY DESORGHER

GINNY DESORGHER

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-02-2024 6:00 PM

GREENFIELD — Mayor Ginny Desorgher has submitted her nearly $64.87 million fiscal year 2025 budget proposal to City Council, marking a 5% increase from the current fiscal year’s spending plan.

City Council will vote on the proposed budget, which includes a 4% increase in funding for schools and the hiring of additional police and fire personnel, at its May meeting. If approved, the budget would drastically increase funding to the Community and Economic Development Department, roughly doubling its wage and salary budget from $72,975 to $145,072 to hire a full-time grant coordinator.

In her budget narrative, Desorgher wrote that she chose to increase funding for the Community and Economic Development Department by 72% to invest in the city’s future revenue growth amid increases in other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liability costs, and significant increases in insurance and health care expenses.

Desorgher added in an interview Tuesday that the state’s housing bond bill, which provides state funding for housing production in local municipalities, and the infrastructure bond bill, which steers billions into Massachusetts cities and towns to fund transportation and roadway improvements, would serve as a benefit for the city’s economic growth.

Since the state law Proposition 2½ limits the rate by which municipalities can raise property tax levies year-by-year to 2.5%, or approximately $1 million annually for Greenfield, Desorgher said the hiring of a full-time assessor would serve to protect the city’s financial health without “impacting property owners.”

“By increasing the assessing staff, the goal is to capture all the new growth that is happening in our beautiful community. New growth is added to the levy and never goes away. Economic development will be the cornerstone of our success,” Desorgher wrote.

Discussing long-term solutions for economic development in Greenfield amid rising costs, Desorgher said the city’s new restaurants and businesses in the downtown area will serve as an economic boost and a form of independent revenue.

“The whole economy benefits when our businesses are successful,” she said.

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The proposed budget would also fund the hiring of a new firefighter, bringing the Fire Department to its full staff of seven firefighters per shift. A 3% increase to the police budget, meanwhile, would fund the creation of a new police officer position, overseeing the downtown business district.

Fire Chief Robert Strahan said the funding, pulled from the ambulance revenue account, would bring his department up to “full staff for every shift” for the first time in roughly a decade.

The city’s legal department would also see significant funding increases under Desorgher’s proposed budget, amounting to a 67% increase from $90,000 to $150,000. Desorgher said the increases come as a precautionary measure after the city saw “enormous legal expenses” this year.

Under the proposed budget, the Greenfield School Department saw a $911,698, or roughly 4%, increase in funding, bringing the city’s total FY25 school budget proposal to roughly $23.69 million, nearing the School Committee’s proposed $24.2 million, finalized last month.

“I believe, and our administrative team believes, that the work we have been doing for the past three years is starting to show an impact for our students and we believe strongly that we should be continuing with the structures that we have,” Superintendent Christine DeBarge said of the School Committee budget. “It’s always challenging to try and allocate a budget that meets the priorities of everyone in the district.”

“I have high hopes for the future of this city,” Desorgher said. “Greenfield really seems to be growing in many ways.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.