Large Deficit Remains As Deadline Approaches

During 2017 budget deliberations, Jamestown City Council has been able to find $53,000 in savings and additional revenues.

However, that amount of money won’t be enough to pull city officials out of the $878,000 deficit they started with following the release of the executive budget in October.

Today, City Council is scheduled to vote on the 2017 budget, which they must approve before Dec. 1 or the executive budget goes into effect for next year. On Oct. 11, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, released the 2017 executive budget, which started with an $878,736 deficit. Teresi said, when he released the proposed budget, that city officials and council members will need to work together, and with partners at the state and county levels, to identify new revenue and restructuring opportunities to close the deficit.

The $53,000 in savings and additional revenues have come from three different sources. One is a $25,000 increase in the payment in lieu of taxes from the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities water division following a recalculation. Also, the city will save an additional $15,000 in health insurance costs following a new contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield. There will also be a $13,000 savings in fire department salaries next year.

The proposed tax levy for next year’s budget is $15,694,050, an increase of $150,220, or .96 percent, compared to the 2016 budget. With the proposed increase, the city has reached its constitutional tax limit. The constitutional tax limit is the amount of money a municipality can ask its property taxpayers to provide compared to the total assessed property value in the community. Each municipality in the state has a constitutional tax limit of 2 percent of the five-year average of the total assessed property value in the community. The city’s taxable assessed property totals $666,586,989.

The proposed tax levy increase in the executive budget is $42,955 above the state’s tax cap limit, which is .69 percent for the city in 2017. Last month, council voted to pass a local law to override the tax cap for the 2017 spending plan. Brent Sheldon, Ward 1 councilman, was the only council member to vote against the tax cap override. If council can find additional savings in next  year’s budget to be below the tax cap, Teresi could sign a law to veto the tax cap override by Dec. 1.

Earlier this month, Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman and Finance Committee chairman, said there is a good chance council might be able to pass a budget that will have a tax levy increase below the state tax cap.

”Because we are at the Constitutional tax limit, the (tax levy) increase is very small. W are only about $20,000 away from getting under the tax cap. We are confident we might not go over the tax cap,” Dolce said. ”This doesn’t solve the major problem of the deficit, but we will continue to look at that.”

The proposed tax rate is $23.77 per $1,000 assess property value. This is 18 cent increase, or .76 percent. The executive budget totals $35,052,304.

City Council is scheduled to vote on the spending plan at 7:30 p.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the City Municipal Building, located at 200 E. Third St.