Proposed City 2020 Budget Has Slight Property Tax Increase

Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, presents his 2019 executive budget in the mayor’s conference room on the fourth floor of the city Municipal Building, located at 200 E. Third St., Tuesday. The proposed budget includes a .52 percent property tax increase. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

The 2020 proposed budget for the city of Jamestown has a slight property tax increase.

On Tuesday, Sam Teresi, Jamestown mayor, presented next year’s executive budget, which includes an $82,942, or .52%, tax levy increased. According to the state Department of Taxation and Finances, the tax levy is the amount raised through property taxes.

For the first time in two years, the tax levy will be increasing in the city because the Constitutional tax limit increased by the same margin. The constitutional tax limit is the amount of money the city can ask its property taxpayers to provide compared to the total taxable assessed value of all property in the community. The city’s constitutional tax limit is 2% of the five-year average of the total taxable assessed value of all property in the community. The city hit 100% of its taxing limit in 2017.

The Constitutional tax limit increased because once again there was an increase in the total taxable assessed value of all property in the city, which increased by $3,325,536, or 0.5 percent, to a total of $674,839,617.

The tax rate will 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 budget is $36,627,704, which is an increase of $629,742, or 1.7%.

For the fourth straight year, Teresi said city officials have been given reasonable assurance that it will receive an additional $1 million in state aid. He said the state is helping the city during its challenging financial situation for three reasons. One is the state doesn’t want to institute a control board to handle the city’s finances. The second reason is state officials like the progress city officials have made in recent years with restructuring efforts to generate cost-savings and additional revenues. The last reasons is because the city has lost around $4.5 million in state aid since 2009 when state officials reduced assistance to all municipalities in the state by 2%. However, because the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities was factored into the state aid cut equation, the city took a 9% reduction 10 years ago.

The projected fund balance at the end of 2019 will be $2,399,434. Teresi advised the Jamestown City Council, who will have the final decision on the budget, to not use any fund balance in the 2020 budget. He said because of unknowns like the potential to pay an arbitration ruling of around $800,000 to the Kendall Club Police Benevolent Association for a 2% retroactive pay increase for 2016 and 2017, which could also be the eventual outcome for the Jamestown Professional Firefighters Association IAFF Local 137 as well, that the city’s savings should be untouched.

Teresi said there are no salary raises for the three collective bargaining units without a contract, which includes the police, fire and Civil Service Employees Association local 1000. There is an increase of $316,353, or 1.9%, increases in salaries in the proposed 2020 budget. This is mainly due to city officials coming to contract agreements with the other three bargaining units — American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 418 and two units of the Jamestown City Administrative Association.

This was the last budget prepared by Teresi and two members of his staff — Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller; Jim Olson, city clerk/financial services director. The mayor, who is in his 20th year of office, said the budget is a blueprint for the next mayor, which should be used as a guide. However, whoever is selected as the next mayor will still have work to do to make ends meet.

“We want these folks to succeed,” he said. “We take no satisfaction in those coming in after us failing.”

The council will start budget deliberations prior to its work session meeting Oct. 21. The council has a deadline of Dec. 1 to pass a budget, or the executive budget will be the fiscal plan used next year.

To view the 2020 executive budget summary, visit jamestownny.net.