The Regionalism and Shared Services Action Team has been charged by the Strategic Planning and Partnerships Commission to help move the city into more regional and shared services relationships with other area municipalities.
This team's specific goal for 2011-2012 was continued support of the study of options for consolidating the Jamestown Police Department with the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office. Significant progress has been made in attaining this goal.
The City of Jamestown, in conjunction with Chautauqua County was awarded a Local Government Efficiency Grant from the New York State Department of State for the purpose of investigating issues related to a consolidation of the City of Jamestown Police Department and the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office. Issues include aligning current compensation and benefits agreements, determining the costs of a combined police force with multiple options or models should be presented, analyzing cost savings of each option/model presented, identifying all potential obstacles to consolidation and provide guidance to overcome those obstacles.
In 2011 the City-County Task Force for the consolidation study prepared a request for proposals to potential consultants for the study, interviewed submissions by consultants and will be shortly presenting recommendations to City Council of the preferred consultant. It is anticipated that, with the approval of City Council, a contract with the selected consultant will be finalized by February 2012 with the study starting immediately thereafter. The study itself will be finished by late 2012 or early 2013.
It should be noted that the SPPC's 2003 recommendation that the city update its property tax revaluation led to the mayor and the City Council adopting a plan to merge the Jamestown Assessment Office with the Town of Busti Assessment Office and the conducting of a property tax revaluation of all Jamestown properties. Now in 2012 under the direction of Assessor Randall Holcomb an assessment consortium has been developed that now includes the City of Jamestown and eight towns.
This regional consortium updates assessments regularly and provides fair assessments for over half of the residents of Chautauqua County at a significantly lower cost for all of the participants, including the City of Jamestown. This success reinforces the team's belief that regionalization of services can not only improve services but also reduce the cost of these services!
Another highlight of the SPPC's Regionalism and Shared Services Action team and the Neighborhood Revitalization Team was its collaboration with the City Department of Development in researching and publishing a residential occupancy cost comparison study.
This study demonstrated that Southern Chautauqua residents have the choice of many fine places to live in our region and that the City of Jamestown ranks very favorably as a choice location when considering its very competitive housing occupancy costs including taxes and utilities.
The misperception that has long existed that the cost of residential living is much higher in Jamestown than surrounding municipalities was challenged by the study's data analysis. The analysis demonstrated that Jamestown's housing operational costs are actually comparable to that of its suburban counterparts and, in some cases, less costly.