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City Finishes 2020 In The Black

A lot has changed during the last few months when dealing with the 2020 financial outlook for the city of Jamestown.

In January, prior to Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s State of the City address, city officials were looking at a potential $1.1 million deficit in 2020. However, with the passage of the federal stimulus package, the city is now looking to finish last year in the black.

On Monday, Ryan Thompson presented the unaudited 2020 year-end financial report to the Jamestown City Council. He said the city finished last year with a $975,643 surplus. He added with the state no longer withholding state aid to municipalities following the approval of the stimulus package, which meant an additional $12.3 billion to the state in direct, unrestricted aid, the city will be made whole.

“(The full amount of state aid) is driving a large amount of the surplus,” Thompson said.

Even though the city will finish in the black in 2020, not all of the financial news was positive. Last year, the city lost $274,096 in parking violations and parking garage and meter fee revenues, Jamestown Board of Public Utility PILOT revenues decreased $118,809 and police and fire department employee salaries, following new agreements, increased more than $1.12 million.

Thompson also presented the council a first-quarter 2021 financial report Monday. He said the BPU PILOT payments for electric and water divisions are exceeding budget, but water, waste water and solid waste are running short of the financial plan. He said, collectively, all the divisions together are right on budget so far this year.

Parking violations are running ahead of budget, as the city has received 41% of its budgeted revenue, Thompson said. He said the city’s ticket collection vendor started sending outstanding tickets to collections, resulting in an increase in payments. However, parking lots and garages/on-street parking meters are trailing budget projections. He said also the monthly revenues for parking garages have not been enough to cover operating costs. As a whole, the three revenues project to be slightly below budget for the year.

Again, because the state is receiving billions in federal stimulus funding, the state will not be withholding 20% of the city’s state aid in 2021. Thompson said this means an additional $1.1 million from the state.

Sales tax revenues are also up for the city. Thompson said county officials have informed him that the city will receive an additional 4.65% in first-quarter sales tax revenue compared to 2020, which is an increase of $73,000.

As for expenditures, Thompson said because of the recent contract negotiations with the police and fire department unions, salaries for these two departments have increased $1.23 million in the 2021 budget.

In other business, the city and Jamestown Community College are looking to enter into a shared services agreement to hire a grant writer. Sundquist said the city currently doesn’t have a grant writer and employees in several different departments are spending time away from their primary duties to write grants. He said the city doesn’t necessarily need a full-time grant writer, which is also the same position JCC is in currently.

Maria Kindberg, JCC Foundation executive director, said the college has a difficult time finding a quality grant writer. She said the college’s salary range has been below other agencies looking for grant writers.

“They have always gone where they are offered more money,” she said.

Sundquist said the plan would be for the college and city to split the cost for the grant writer 50/50. Also, the position would have an office at both JCC and at the Jamestown Municipal Building. He said the new worker would be considered a city employee, but would be non-union. The shared services agreement would be for two years.

“It’s a wonderful way to work with the college, who has been such a strong partner in the work we are doing,” he said.

The council is slated to vote on the proposal at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

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