Choosing between cops and library books in Springfield

The quote of the day, from Urban Compass: "I had to choose between keeping police on the streets, and books” — Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno

Sarno announced the layoffs of 89 city employees today. The greatest number (44) are in the Department of Public Works, but the city's library department seems to be getting the deepest cuts. The Valley Advocate's Maureen Turner has the numbers:

Faced with deep cuts in local aid, the Sarno administration is looking to cut more than $4.5 million in city spending over the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30. While the cuts are spread across city departments, the Library Department faces the highest percent cut: 10.76 percent, for a total of $455,000. The majority of other departments face cuts of less than five percent….

Sarno told the Advocate last week that he values the city's library system—just not more than other departments, like police and fire. In his budget recommendations, Sarno suggested cuts of 2.35 percent and 2.38 percent, respectively, from the Police and Fire departments. In both cases, those cuts would come almost entirely by leaving vacant positions unfilled.

"I do believe libraries are important," Sarno said. "But in these dire times, I have to make priorities. And my priorities are public safety."

Turner notes that a disproportionate reduction in the library department's budget could jeopardize the city's eligibility for funds from the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners, which would make a bad literary situation even worse.