Police Will Meet ’17 Budget Projection

About halfway through the year, it was unknown if the Jamestown Police Department would meet its 2017 budget.

However, Harry Snellings, Jamestown Police Department chief and city public safety director, told the Jamestown City Council Monday that the department will meet or be under budget for the year.

In July when Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, was presenting his 2017 first half budget update to the council, he said costs are up for the Jamestown Police Department because they had six retirements already during the year with buyout packages totaling more than $378,000. Bellitto said city officials were only expecting one retirement in the police department during 2017, which is why city officials only budgeted $80,000 for retirement buyout packages for the year.

Despite the unexpected retirements, Snellings said they will meet their budget because all the retirements happened at the start of the year, which resulted in paying new employees a lower salary for a majority of the year. Snellings said they are anticipating two retirements in the department during 2018, but there are more employees with the option to retire during the next year.

Marie Carrubba, councilwoman Ward 4, asked about how the water damage from the flooding caused during the Tracy Plaza reconstruction project has impacted the 2018 budget. Snellings said city officials are about to start moving forward with the renovation project to repair damages to the department, which is located under Tracy Plaza. He said the first priority is to get the customer service/entrance area open to the public. He added that city officials are handling internally what needs to get renovated so business can return to normal, with the city’s insurance company dealing with the contractor’s insurance company as far as recouping money caused by the flooding in the department. Snellings said items that will need replaced include walls, furniture and computers.

In September, flooding from a rain storm caused areas under Tracy Plaza, which is the concrete pad around the Jamestown Municipal Building, to be flooded, most notably the Jamestown Police Department. Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, said Patterson-Stevens Inc. of Tonawanda, the contractors working on the Tracy Plaza reconstruction project, didn’t properly secure the area, which allowed rainwater to pour into the police station.

In other budget discussions, the council discussed the Jamestown Fire Department budget with Chet Harvey, deputy chief. Harvey said one of the main budget concerns is overtime. He said it is difficult to estimate how much overtime will need to be paid during the year because of injuries. He added the amount in the 2018 proposed budget is a conservative amount.

Harvey also said on Monday they picked up their new command vehicle truck. Last month, the council approved an emergency purchase to replace the Jamestown Fire Department command vehicle that was involved in an accident Oct. 20.

Last month, Harvey said the Chevrolet Suburban involved in the accident on its way to emergency was a vehicle used by the department as a command unit, which they need to replace right away.

On Oct. 20, a Battalion Chief Andrew Finson was responding to an emergency when a a sports utility vehicle collided, causing significant damage to both vehicles. The crash took place at the intersection of Newland Avenue and Hazzard Street. According to Capt. Robert Samuelson of the Jamestown Police Department the night of the accident, the battalion chief had the vehicle’s lights and sirens on at the time of the crash.

Harvey said on Monday the insurance company for the driver of the sports utility vehicle is accepting total fault for the accident.

Marilyn Fiore-Lehman, city corporation counsel, also presented her 2018 proposed budget. She said it is a straightforward fiscal plan with office expenses and salaries. She said the one unknown are claims against the city. She said usually the amount budgeted is well under what the city pays each year in legal claims. However, she said in 2017 claims did exceed what was budgeted.

On Monday, the council will continue budget deliberations when they talk to officials from the city Department of Development, the James Prendergast Library and the Fenton History Center. The budget discussions will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the mayor’s conference room on the fourth floor of the Municipal Building, located at 200 E. Third St.

A public hearing on the 2018 budget has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, in the council’s chambers on the second floor of the Municipal Building.

In October, Teresi released his 2018 executive budget, which has a deficit of $946,679. There is also 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, next year’s spending plan is under the state’s property tax cap.

The council has a Dec. 1 deadline to pass a budget or the executive budget goes into effect.

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, or visit the James Prendergast Library, located at 509 Cherry St.