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G Id oerrecrr are Gon INeITycounch — 20! Thank you for meeting with members of the Fiscal Review Committee of the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and the Holyoke Taxpayers Association earlier this year, We very much appreciate having the opportunity to share our thoughts regarding the financial challenges facing the City. May 12, 2015 On May 7", Mayor Morse, Chief of Staff Rory Casey and Acting City Auditor Bellamy Schmidt met with our committee and briefed us on development of the FY 2016 budget proposal and related financial management issues. We had an extensive and in-depth discussion, and would like to take this ‘opportunity to give you and the City Council our feedback on several matters. ‘* We applaud the general approach of utilizing revenue and expenditure forecasts that are conservative but generally reflect actual expectations in development of the FY 2016 budget proposal. With the City having reached its levy ceiling, it is important to start the fiscal year with a realistic fiscal plan. We believe the storm-water fee and parking fee increase proposed to offset the sewer fund deficit deserve careful consideration. Bringing the FY 2016 budget into balance will require a revenue component, and the proposed fees constitute a reasonable and equitable approach. ‘The proposed five-year Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) is an excellent first step in multi-year planning. As expected, needs far outstrip available resources, but the effort to review projects and capital equipment needs over a longer time frame will help city officials devetop strategies to expand the capital renewal program. 177 High Street © Holyoke, MA 01040-6504 phi 413.534.3376 © fax: 413.534.3385 * ® (Page 2) ‘* The proposed Stabilization Fund Policy provides structure around management of a core city asset. Itis important to define how the fund can be used and we believe the current draft protects the fund while providing city officials with needed flexibility. * The Massachusetts Department of Revenue addresses several necessary reforms in its review of the City’s financial management structure. Development of a strong, well-coordinated financial team is a key recommendation, and will give the City the capacity to make the best use of scarce resources. This is possibly the single most important step the City can take to maintain a stable financial footing into the future. Finally but most importantly, your expressed support for financial reform is extremely commendable. Your partnership with the Mayor in this effort exhibits true leadership on crucially important issues impacting Holyoke’s future. Please feel free to call on us in any way that we can be of assistance. Sincerely, Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Holyoke Taxpayers Association Joint Finance Committee