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Budget Restores Some Funding To Prendergast Library In 2020

It might not be the full restoration of $350,000 in funding, but the Jamestown City Council did double its financing to the James Prendergast Library next year.

On Monday, the council approved its 2020 budget, which included funding the library an additional $40,000.

During the council’s voting session meeting, Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman, moved a resolution, which was approved, to decrease funding for prescription drug claims for current and retired city employees enrolled in the city’s self-insurance health care plan by $150,000.

Earlier this month, 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. Teresi recommended the council only factor in about a $150,000 of the savings because it’s not a guarantee.

Following the decrease of $150,000 in 2020 budget expenditures, Andrew Liuzzo, At-Large councilman, proposed a resolution to fund the James Prendergast Library the $150,000 to help the financially strapped institution. Thomas Nelson, Ward 6 councilman, seconded the resolution, which was not approved by a vote of 2-7, with Nelson and Liuzzo being the only affirmative votes.

Nelson then proposed a resolution to fund an additional $40,000 to the library, for a grand total of $100,000 in the 2020 budget. The city funded the library $50,000 in the 2019 budget. The council then unanimously approved the resolution, which was met with a round of applause by dozens of people who attended the meeting.

Prior to the budget vote, four members of the public spoke in favor of increasing funding to the Prendergast Library.

Library officials are facing a potential cut in state financial aid due to the decrease in funding from the city. The reduction in state aid is a result of Jamestown officials cutting the library’s funding by more than 5% in a two-year period. Because of its own financial issues, city officials cut funding to the Prendergast Library by 50% ($50,000) in 2018 and 71% ($250,000) in 2017.

The state is lowering the library’s funding because of the $300,000 in total cuts city officials made in 2017 and 2018. The state’s Maintenance of Effort for Public Library Systems clause tries to ensure that local municipalities fund library operations so the state isn’t the only taxing entity supporting the facility.

Library officials are still awaiting an official word from the state about the cut in aid, but have been told unofficially the cut will occur. If the cut does happen, the state will cut 25% of its funding this year to the library and all of its $111,000 in aid next year.

Earlier this month, Dolce asked Tina Scott, library executive director, how much funding would the city need to provide the library to prevent the state aid cut. Scott said the city would need to restore its funding to the library back to the $350,000 level to prevent the state aid cut.

Even though no official word has come from state officials about the potential state aid cut, library officials are moving ahead with a proposal to ask voters in the Jamestown Public Schools district to approve $350,000 in funding for the library. The vote is scheduled to take place in May. If voters approve funding for the library, the state will not decrease its funding.

The approved 2020 city budget, totaling $36.5 million, will have a tax rate decrease of 16 cents to a total of $23.69 per $1,000 assess 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 proposed tax levy next year will be $27,058 less than it was this year. According to the state Department of Taxation and Finances, the tax levy is the amount raised through property taxes.

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