At-Large Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman releases the following statement regarding the budget cut of $800,000 with regard to the administration’s efforts to lease a shooting range for use by the Springfield Police Department:
“Last night I joined with the majority of my colleagues in supporting a cut in the Mayor’s proposed budget of $800,000. These funds were proposed to be allocated within the facilities department to support a 20-year lease of a private facility to be retrofitted as a new shooting range for use by the Springfield Police Department in the certification process. This would amount to $16 million dollars over the next 20 years.
Before the FY 21 Budget was released on June 12 no City Councilor had been informed of this effort, including members of the Public Safety and Finance Committees. During the course of the budget hearing and under direct questioning by myself the administration also revealed that they had already ‘signed and executed’ a lease with the owners of the facility, marking a 20 year fiscal commitment with negotiations by the administration beginning last year.
Most contracts over 3 years require prior approval by the City Council given their magnitude, and Councilors including myself are concerned that this process took place without public and legislative scrutiny. The administration holds that approval was not required because of the ‘unique’ nature of the property, however I believe such a fiscal commitment should still have been at the very least disclosed to the City Council.
Furthermore, with plans for a new Police Department Complex still in the works, many Councilors including myself questioned if it would not be more cost effective to plan for inclusion of a facility for firearms training within that project, and in the meantime allow our city’s officers to certify at private facilities for which we would cover the cost. Under one projection, this could come at half the annual cost.
Every single one of us wants our Police Officers to have the best training possible. We also have an ethical responsibility to transparency in the city’s actions and finances, and a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the residents and tax-payers of Springfield see their funds expended in the most efficient way possible with the most community benefit. The process that has taken place so far has not allowed for due diligence on either of those responsibilities by the City Council, and for that reason I cannot support this expenditure as presented.