Annexation Of BPU Makes Perfect Financial Sense

It is good to see the city of Jamestown taking the first public steps what we are sure will be a long and winding road to solid financial ground by discussing annexation of the Board of Public Utilities’ Dow Street substation into the city.

The substation is on property located directly contiguous to the city’s border along Tiffany Avenue, which means the Board of Public Utilities pays a total of $322,100 in property taxes to the county, town of Ellicott, village of Falconer and Falconer Central School District. Annexing the land means the BPU will save money — reducing the need for future rate increases — while bringing an additional $80,000 in PILOT payments to the city and to the Jamestown Public Schools District.

The move makes perfect sense from the perspective of the utility and of the Jamestown City Council. The Board of Public Utilities can save money in future years by doing nothing other than spending money this year on the costs associated with the annexation process and the inevitable legal challenges. The city, likewise, can realize a revenue stream that would have filled 9 percent of its 2017 budget gap without getting a concession from a union bargaining unit or raising taxes on city residents.

With precious few avenues available for the city to bring in new revenues, however, the annexation is a process that should proceed as soon as possible. It is unfortunate that plugging part of Jamestown’s budget gap will hurt its neighbors, but starting the process as quickly as possible allows partners to build budgets for the coming year knowing they will be losing revenue; waiting simply isn’t fair to the Falconer Central School district board nor to Falconer and Ellicott officials. Starting the process and resolving the associated legal hurdles that will result will mean the city can begin moving on to other items on its agenda with a bigger payoff.

The City Council should approve the Board of Public Utilities’ request at its next voting session.