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Springfield Finance Control Board Dissolved

By Paul Tuthill

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-846599.mp3

Springfield MA – The state controlled board that has run the city of Springfield Massachusetts for the last five years has been dissolved. Members of the board say they are optimistic about the city's future ....WAMC's Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports...

The Springfield Finance Control Board arrived five years ago as a dark cloud of potential bankruptcy was over the state's third largest city. It departed amidst a celebration on the sun splashed front steps of Springfield City Hall. Governor Deval Patrick presented a gavel to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno to symbolize the return to self-governance. The Governor said the end of state control over the city's fiscal affairs is an important milestone because it returns responsibility for Springfield's future to its people.

Tuesday's ceremony was attended by both the governor and Lt Governor, state and city officials, and members of the control board, past and present. About 200 people watched...many in the shade of Court Square - across the street from city hall.

The control board was created by the state legislature in 2004 after it agreed to give Springfield a 52 million dollar emergency loan so it could pay its bills. Springfield now has 48 million dollars in a trust fund that will be used to pay back the loan over the next 15 years. Interest from the trust will pay for a college financial aid program for Springfield High School Students. Charles Ryan, who was mayor when the control board was created, says the city would not have survived without it. Mayor Sarno says the five year history of the control board is a success story.

The control board held its final business meeting Tuesday and voted unanimously to dissolve. Control Board chairman Christopher Gabrielli declared it "mission accomplished," and he said the board had done much more than just slash costs and aggressively pursue revenue.

Gabreilli says he knows there are skeptics who doubt Springfield can keep the momentum with the control board gone. The board, in one of its final official acts, voted to approved a 528 million dollar budget for the Springfield for the fiscal year that starts July 1st.

Related:

Video of the control board handover ceremony at Springfield City Hall