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City Council Discusses Potential Budget Savings

The Jamestown City Council is pictured during an October meeting. Monday during the council’s work session meeting, Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, and Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, discussed that the cost for prescription drugs next year could be reduced by more than $350,000. P-J file photo by Dennis Phillips

The Jamestown City Council might be able to reduce expenses in the proposed 2020 budget.

On Monday during the council’s work session meeting, Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, and Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, discussed that the cost for prescription drugs next year could be reduced by more than $350,000.

In the proposed 2020 executive budget, city officials had estimated to pay around $2.3 million in prescription claims for current and retired city employees enrolled in the city self-insured health care program. However, Bellitto said the state health care program and the Affordable Care Act will allowed the city to enroll in a new rebate program that could result in $357,182 in savings. Even with the potential savings of more than $300,000, Teresi told the council that there is no guaranteed savings so they need to be careful with final budget numbers.

“This is all a forecast right now. It’s dependent on folks utilizing information that they’ve received and used in the past,” Teresi said. “We’ve had healthy years and we’ve had unhealthy years. There could be (employees and retirees) coming into a point in their life or coming into the workforce who could add significantly to this, so I think while there are savings that we could book here caution needs to be the word of the day.”

Teresi recommended the council only factor in about a $150,000 of savings. He also said the savings should not be used for additional budget expenditures. He suggested that the council should consider applying the savings toward tax relief for city property owners.

On Oct. 8, Teresi released the proposed city budget, which included an $82,942, or 0.52%, tax levy increased. According to the state Department of Taxation and Finances, the tax levy is the amount raised through property taxes.

The tax rate was proposed to be the same as in 2019 at $23.85 per $1,000 assessed property value. According to the state Department of Taxation and Finances, the tax rate is determined by dividing the tax levy by the total taxable assessed value of all property in a jurisdiction.

The total proposed budget is $36,627,704, which is an increase of $629,742, or 1.7%.

The council has a deadline of Dec. 1 to pass a budget, which could include the proposed reduction in prescription cost, or the executive budget will go into effect next year.

In other business, the council heard from Jeff Lehman, city public works director, about his department’s proposed 2020 budget. Lehman said one of his concerns is that there is only one mechanic position to maintain the city Municipal Building, located at 200 E. Third St. He said he doesn’t know who would maintain the building, which is around 50 years old, if the mechanic left for another job, was injured or became sick. Lehman added that he doesn’t even know how to maintain the building at the same level because of all of its nuances.

Even with the new equipment purchases that have been made during the last month under the Smart City Investment Plan, Lehman said there are still new equipment and vehicle needs. He said there is still around $6 million in new equipment and vehicle needs even though the council has approved around $2 million in purchases for the items included in the Smart City Investment Plan.

Lehman also told the council that the salt budget in next year’s proposed budget has increased by $10,000. He said the cost of salt will increase by 8% next year.

During the regular work session meeting, Lehman provided details about three new pieces of equipment and vehicles the council will vote on to possibly purchase later this month. He said a 2020 John Deere tractor with a Tiger boom mower, a 2020 Aquatechsewer jet vacuum truck and 2020 Caterpiller CB13 roller purchases will be voted on by the council Monday, Nov. 25.

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