The predictions of the State of the City addresses remained positive

Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia delivers his State of the City address at Holyoke City Hall on May 9.
Photo credit: Holyoke Media.

HOLYOKE – Holyoke Mayor Joshua Garcia presented his proposed fiscal year 2025 city budget during his State of the City address on May 9 and also spoke of his hopes to work with the city to make a lasting impact on the city during his term in office city ​​of Holyoke.

“In reality, the heart and soul of any community are its people. People you might not read about in textbooks, or only occasionally in the newspaper. Here in Holyoke, we are blessed day in and day out by citizens who are just trying to do the right thing,” Garcia said. “So I hope that future generations, when they remember this moment in our history, will see that we were a determined, decent people. That we faced challenges, but were not defined by them. That when we were knocked down, we got right back up.

Garcia added that he is proud to report that the city has strengthened its final position over the past year and that the city has initiated a comprehensive master planning process to guide the city over the next 25 years.

“The budget is in balance. City services are provided. The condition of the city is strong,” Garcia said.

Garcia’s initial proposed full budget is $172.32 million, split between $76.15 million for the city side and a $96.14 million proposal for the schools.

“Our local economy is getting stronger. Our schools are on their way back to local hands. Our budget is in surplus for the third year in a row,” Garcia said.

Notable budget items include a reduction in the city’s debt, salary increases for staff and the addition of a financial administrative officer for the mayor’s office and a crime analyst for the city. Garcia also asked the council through his speech to place on the ballot the question of making the treasurer a position appointed by the council.

“These recommendations are not new and are part of my efforts to strengthen financial controls in all departments,” Garcia added.

Garcia said he expects moderate growth in local revenues and that the city will have a better understanding of revenue growth as the current fiscal year ends next month. The proposed 2025 budget began undergoing adjustments during a May 16 budget hearing by the City Council, the first of three — two more scheduled for May 28 and 29 — where the council can make cuts to the mayor’s budget but can’t replace it add.
The city will provide salary increases under negotiated union contracts, a 2% cost-of-living adjustment, as well as increases for non-union employees, health insurance, school transportation, leases and a 13% increase in local contributions to the school department.

Garcia said the certification of free cash by the state Department of Revenue is pending, but once it is certified, he plans to propose strategic investments to the City Council, with the goal of allocating funds for capital improvements and reserve accounts, as well as for one-off expenses. .

Garcia added that this budget is not dependent on replacing ARPA revenue and is not proposing a Proposition 2½ override or reduction in services and has a small surplus.

“On all key metrics, Holyoke is moving solidly and decisively in the right direction,” Garcia said. “Our local economy is getting stronger. Our schools are on their way back to local hands. Our budget is in surplus for the third year in a row and we did not have to use reserves, free money or replace ARPA revenues.”

Garcia also took time to shed light on the growth of investment in Holyoke, citing new industries like Sublime Systems and Clean Crop Technologies that have made their way to the city to build their businesses and help change the city into a leader in a greener city. future.

“This is a sign of a healthy community: New industries are locating here because they know they can succeed here,” Garcia said. “There is more to come, as we show that America’s economic future is now in Holyoke.”

Garcia also spoke positively about the important steps the city has taken in developing quality housing.
More than 100 new units have been developed during Garcia’s tenure as mayor and he said he looks forward to adding another 100 units in the coming years.

Garcia also noted that major projects such as the new high school and future state-of-the-art sports complex and the new home of the Volleyball Hall of Fame are both “poised to do wonders for the local economy.”

The full proposed budget can be viewed on the city’s website and the full status of the city address is available on the Holyoke Media YouTube channel.