Divided Council Mulls Cap On Springfield City Workers

On the agenda for Springfield aldermen next week will be further debate on a proposal that would require City Council approval for all hiring beyond a cap of 1,500 full time workers.

Aldermen meeting in committee spent much of Wednesday night in an occasionally heated back-and-forth over the pros and cons of placing a cap on the city’s headcount.

Among the six aldermen opposed (see below for vote), some call the limit of 1,500 an “arbitrary” number that would tie the Mayor’s hands when making hiring decisions.

The four in favor, including Joe McMenamin of Ward 7, say it’s a matter of the Council showing fiscal responsibility and transparency as it prepares to consider a sales tax hike for road and infrastructure repairs:

MCMENAMIN: “The public wants us to be lean and mean and efficient. The public will not support a tax increase unless they have the assurance that this City Council is going to be a lean-minded and tight-fisted City Council when it comes to budget.”

Mayor Mike Houston declined to comment on the Council’s division of opinion, but pointed out that as of Wednesday the city’s headcount was at 1,476 – 33 below the cap debated by aldermen.

The Mayor’s proposed FY14 budget, however, would authorize funding for 1,526 positions.  That figure would still be the city’s lowest level of staffing in nearly a decade.  Budget documents show Springfield had 1,753 government workers on the payroll in FY2005.

The ordinance, sponsored by Alds. Edwards, McMenamin and Dove, would also mandate that city departments provide the City Council monthly reports on current staffing levels.

Vote on Ordinance 2013-067 (On Question of Consent): 

  1. Edwards: Yes
  2. Simpson: No
  3. Turner: No
  4. Lesko: No
  5. Cahnman: Yes
  6. Jobe: No
  7. McMenamin: Yes
  8. Theilen: No
  9. Dove: Yes
  10. Griffin: No

-Peter Gray, WUIS

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