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Council Receives Financial Update

The first-half financial update was bad news for the Jamestown City Council, but not as bad as original thought due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, Ryan Thompson, city comptroller, presented the first-half financial update to the council during its work session meeting. He said second quarter sales tax revenues were down 13.4% compared to the second quarter of 2019. He said the city is 2.5% below last year’s first-half sales tax revenue total. Given the COVID-19 pandemic that, at times, has shutdown a lot of the local economy, city officials were surprised that first-half sales tax revenues weren’t further below last year’s mark.

“We’re not down as much as originally anticipated,” Thompson said.

Jamestown Board of Public Utilities Payment In Lieu Of Tax payments are also down during the first six months of the year, Thompson said. He said BPU PILOT payments are down 5% compared to 2019. He said electric, water and district heat divisions are all running below budget estimates.

Thompson also told the council that parking meter violations are down 48%, which makes sense because for almost two months city officials didn’t enforce downtown parking regulations. Thompson also said fines and court fee revenues are down 60% and mortgage tax revenues have dropped 9%.

Thompson said city officials have not received word from state officials on how much state aid could be reduced.

“So that is still up in the air,” he said.

Thompson said the fire department did have an increase in calls during the month of June, which escalate overtime costs for the department. He said year-to-date, the fire department has used 61% of its overtime budget.

One bit of good financial news is that health insurance claims are down 8% during the first-half of the year. However, Thompson warned the council that health insurance claims are, at times, volatile, so the first-half savings could be gone by the end of the year.

Thompson said, overall, salaries are on budget following the approval of the COVID-19 financial restructuring plan. In June, the council approved Phase One cuts totalling $1,155,674. These cuts included a $100,000 budget reallocation from the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency to the city because of additional funding the city has received through the CARES Act; a $100,000 savings through the Public Works Department central garage; a $289,000 savings in Public Work Department streets; a $251,000 savings in the Parks Department; and a $310,187 savings in overall benefits.

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