Executive, DPW Budget Proposals $50K Apart

The first budget deliberation meeting with city department heads has become so repetitive year-after-year that Jeff Lehman, city public works director, started the meeting by saying, “It’s Groundhog Day, again.”

On Monday, the first budget deliberation meeting on the city’s proposed 2018 spending plan started with the Public Works and Parks department leaders discussing their budget with Jamestown City Council, which is the first in a series of budget deliberation meetings they will hold with city officials during the coming weeks.

The repetitive nature of the meeting with the Public Works and Parks department leaders happens because each year they discuss with the council how their budget requests have been cut significantly in the proposed executive budget.

Each year, the city’s mayor releases a budget proposal around Oct. 8, which is known as the executive budget. Following the release, the council deliberates over the budget and can create proposed changes to the spending plan. The council then has until Dec. 1 to pass an on-time spending plan or the executive budget will go into effect.

Lehman said his biggest concern is the cuts to the capital accounts in his department’s budget. He said they’re down to the barebones, with no more spare parts set aside to use during an emergency.

“We’re just getting by,” he said.

Lehman said he requested $48,000 in funding to maintain the city Municipal Building while only receiving $ 7,000.

“There are a lot of issues in this building,” Lehman said about the facility located at 200 E. Third St.

Lehman also said that his department received nothing in funding to maintain the Public Works Department building located at 145 Steele St. He guaranteed that by the end of 2018, they will need funding to fix some problem at the facility.

Greg Rabb, council president, even pointed out that the Public Works Department’s submitted budget request was between $75,000 to $100,000 while receiving only about $25,000 in the proposed executive budget.

For the Parks Department, John Williams, city parks manager, said with the park system grown with the additions like the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk, that they have more and more park space to maintain each year while manpower in the department stays the same. He said there is a good crew of 15 full-time employees in the department, but the job is getting more difficult with the additional park space and outdated equipment the staff has to use to perform their duties.

Last week, Teresi released his 2018 executive budget, which has a proposed tax levy increase of $167,712, or 1.1 percent. With the tax levy increase, the city has once again hit its constitutional tax limit of $16,011,982. 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. The city has a constitutional tax limit of 2 percent of the five-year average of the total assessed property value in the community.

The total budget is $35,724,391, which is a $700,897, or 2 percent, increase. The tax rate will be $23.98 per $1,000 assessed property value, which is a 21 cent increase. Under the executive budget, the spending plan is under the state’s property tax cap.

To view the 2018 executive budget memo, visit the city’s website at jamestownny.net. To view a copy of the budget, visit the offices of the city clerk or mayor at 200 E. Third St. or visit the James Prendergast Library, located at 509 Cherry St.