Liuzzo Questions Admin Procedures

A new Jamestown City Councilman questioned a couple different administrative procedures during their voting session meeting Monday.

Andrew Liuzzo, At-Large councilman, questioned the use of a “Dummy Resolution,” which pertained to a resolution amending the terms of a Jamestown Local Development Corporation loan. The first term councilman asked why the council is voting on a “blank piece of paper,” which states “Dummy Resolution.”

Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, then explained to Liuzzo the “Dummy Resolution” is used as a place holder in the meeting agenda while the final details of a resolution are worked out prior to the voting session meeting. He said the meeting agenda and resolutions are sent to the council members and the media Thursday afternoon. He added that Vince DeJoy, city development director, and Marilyn Fiore-Lehman, city corporation counsel, were still working on the renegotiated terms of the loan with the HH Jamestown LLC, which is a subsidiary of the Hamister Group. The Hamister Group is working to renovate the Fourth Street hotel into the Jamestown DoubleTree by Hilton.

DeJoy said city officials and the Hamister Group didn’t reach a verbal deal until Friday. He said at that point he sent an email to all the council members detailing the new deal that they would be voting on Monday. He added the reason the council needed to vote on the deal is because any JLDC loan of more than $100,000 needs their approval. The loan with the Hamister Group is for $350,000, which was originally approved in June 2016.

Following the meeting, Teresi said the original loan with the Hamister Group was being renegotiated because of a loss in assessed property value. He said the hotel was originally assessed at $3.3 million, but a state Supreme Court ruling lowered the assessment to $1.8 million. He added that after the change in assessment, the city was going to lose $38,000 in tax revenues.

However, Teresi said the Hamister Group renegotiated the deal with city officials to voluntarily pay the $38,000 so the taxpayers of the city are held harmless from the change in assessment. He said the new agreement also includes some federal Community Development Block Grand funding for the Hamister Group.

Teresi said the $14-$18 million renovation project is still slated to open around July 1.

The council unanimously approved the resolution.

During another resolution, Liuzzo also questioned procedure when he wondered why the council was accepting the transfer of rights and obligations for a state grant the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities received. He called for the resolution to be tabled because it is not the council’s responsibility.

The BPU received a $375,000 Clean Water Infrastructure Improvement Act grant for the purpose of improving sewer slip lines. The award will be applied to a $1.5 million sanitary sewer main slip lining project in the BPU’s wastewater collection system. Approximately six miles of sewer lines will be sealed to prevent leaks in the system’s clay tile pipe.

Teresi explained that the BPU during their January meeting made the request for the council to accept the grant because it is what state officials instructed them to do because they will be the entity bonding for the rest of the funds needed to do the slip lining project.

When the council voted on this resolution, Liuzzo was the only member of the council to vote against accepting the grant for the BPU.