Last Year’s Surplus Doesn’t Get City Over It’s Financial Issues

It’s good to see Jamestown finish a fiscal year with a surplus, but let’s not get too excited.

The news from Monday’s City Council meeting is indicative of two things — that city officials did a good job, and got a little lucky, with expenditures coming in under budget, particularly health insurance claims; and the state was extremely generous above and beyond the $864,000 the city requested in 2016 to balance the 2017 budget. Were it not for New York state, the city would still have been roughly $500,000 in the hole last year. The city received an additional $203,274 in highway aid and an additional $210,000 in the form of an unexpected reimbursement for the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk resulted in the surplus. The city also used $175,074 of the nearly $1 million the state earmarked for the city in additional state aid.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t mean Jamestown is over its financial issues. To his credit, Mayor Sam Teresi said as much during Monday’s City Council meeting. The city still needs to find a way to rein in retiree health care costs, increase its taxable assessment so that the tax burden is spread more evenly and find a way to create room under the state’s constitutional taxation limit. And, perhaps a thank you card to New York state is in order, too.