Former Council President Selected For Fellowship

A former Jamestown City Council president will be able to take his experience dealing with a fiscally stressed city and apply it to a research fellowship.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government announced that Greg Rabb, Jamestown Community College political science professor, was one of four researchers named as a 2019 Richard P. Nathan Public Policy Fellow. During the next year, Rabb will work with the Rockefeller Institute to research a timely public policy issue — the fiscal health of small cities.

Rabb’s fellowship research will take an in-depth look at 10 representative small cities in the state to examine conditions that led to fiscal stress in 2018 and how these cities have coped. Also, he will make recommendations for short-, middle- and long-term policy solutions.

“One of the reasons they wanted me is that I have real world experience,” Rabb said about his 10 years as president of the council and his two years as the chairman of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. “The biggest challenge we constantly faced was to balance the budget every fall. Switching to the BPU it’s a little less stressful, but still a challenge to make sure we’re running the BPU as well as we do. I have 12 years of experience of balancing budgets and providing services people need. I’ve developed a keen understanding of how to do it, and I’ll balance that with the research and academic side.”

As for the 10 cities Rabb will research, Jamestown, Dunkirk and Olean will be included because they’re located in the service area of JCC. Rabb said he has a list of 13 to 14 other cities that he will have to narrow down to include seven additional municipalities.

“I want to avoid cities next to major cities, which are basically just suburbs,” he said. “I might include Batavia, Corning and Hornell because they’re small cities in rural counties and not next door to a major city.”

Rabb said he is aiming to select cities with a population between 10,000 to 30,000. Once the cities are selected, he said he will talk to the mayor or city manager of each on the list.

He will ask them about how they balance budgets, creative solutions they have found and what creative solutions they could do if it was allowed by the state.

“There might be some good ideas out there that might be done in other cities,” he said. “One advantage of this project is I will be able to share the information because it will get out with the assistance of the Rockefeller Institute. I’m hoping that is what comes out of this. Not just a better understanding, but solutions that can work for all.”

Rabb said even though he was chosen for the fellowship, he believes that the successes of JCC and the city of Jamestown also played a part in the selection.

“It didn’t just come to me, but it’s represents the fine work the college and the city does,” he said. “I like to think I’m accepting this not just because of my work, but because it says volumes about what people in Albany at Rockefeller Institute know about JCC and Jamestown.”