With grim new estimates placing Springfield's budget deficit as high as $70 million by the year 2012, legislative leaders are discussing the possibility of receivership or bankruptcy for the cash-strapped city.
''Everything is a possibility, anything from receivership to bankruptcy," House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi said after a closed-door meeting yesterday with members of the city's legislative delegation, Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, and Governor Mitt Romney's budget chief, Thomas Trimarco.
DiMasi said he doesn't yet support any one solution, but said placing the city under the control of a receiver would give that individual the power to do whatever is necessary to bring costs under control and increase revenue.
Since 2004, a five-member control board appointed by Romney has overseen the city's finances.
Under the best-case scenario, the deficit is estimated to grow from a projected $6.5 million gap for the current fiscal year to as high as $40 to $50 million by 2012, according to DiMasi.
The situation could be far worse.
Under another scenario, the deficit could climb to as high as $70 million over the same period, according to Representative Gale D. Candaras, a Wilbraham Democrat who represents a portion of the state's third-largest city.
Candaras said the city's fiscal woes go far beyond a recent court ruling that the city illegally froze wage increases for teachers. City officials are not sure where they are going to get the money to pay the teachers.
She called the fiscal troubles ''broad, deep, and structural."
The state has already loaned Springfield $52 million, and legislative leaders have repeatedly said they have no intention of lending more or writing off the loan, which they said would set a bad precedent.
''We've got to change the way we're doing business there," said Travaglini, a Boston Democrat.