Westfield adds $3.2M to annual budget

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In a 6-1 vote, the Westfield City Council approved a $3.2 million budget increase for 2024 proposed by Mayor Scott Willis, one that invests more cash in economic and community development as well as the staff needed to reach Willis’ goals for the city.

The budget appropriation was approved via ordinance during the council’s Jan. 29 meeting.

Willis said funding would be allocated to follow the new administration’s vision developed during the transition process. Funds include salary and benefits for additional staffing related to restructuring.

Willis said the city has grown by more than 20 percent in the past four years, but hiring did not reflect the growth, outside of the police department.

“I anticipate that activities will increase here in the next year or two, and we need additional resources to serve our residents in a way that they have grown to expect,” Willis said.

The largest allocation of $839,929 is earmarked for economic development, which includes three new salaries with benefits, and services.

In administration, the budget increase totals $506,923, which includes salaries, training and professional services.

Additional increases by department include:

  • Police – $156,500
  • Community Development – $272,532
  • Parks – $341,115
  • Informatics – $74,722
  • Clerk-Treasurer – $121,446
  • Public Works – $174,839
  • Communications – $243,943
  • Guest Services – $5,662
  • Human Resources – $118,719
  • Legal – $12,000
  • Facilities and Events – $294,797
  • City Council – $60,000

Councilmember Noah Herron of District 5 cast the lone no vote. He said that while he supports the additional spending, his sticking point was the $60,000 appropriated for the city council, which is earmarked to provide members with health benefits.

“I totally agree that the new hires are justified, the salary increases are justified,” Herron said. “From Day 1, I was against health care (for the city council). I asked that we could vote on it separately so I could actually state my vote against it, but it somehow got wrapped into this whole thing. So, I just want to reiterate that I am totally for the new hirings and salary increases, but giving ourselves health insurance benefits right off the bat, I think it’s the wrong thing to do. So, therefore, I will be voting no.”

In his presentation, Willis noted that the city’s overall budget is balanced, with a surplus of roughly $5 million for 2024, with $23 million remaining in cash reserves. Additional revenue is expected once the agreement with the new management for Grand Park is executed, with $1.9 million budgeted for six months in 2024.

“We certainly have money for this new appropriation, and we think it makes sense and is a good investment for our community moving forward,” Willis said.


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