Sundquist To Discuss Online Progress, Future Plans In Address
The mayor of Jamestown will discuss several topics detailing what city officials did during 2020 and what will be done in 2021.
On Monday, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist will present his 2021 State of the City address. The written report that is usually accompanied by a speech from the mayor will be done a little differently this year.
Sundquist said instead of presenting a live speech to the Jamestown City Council and the public, he will pre-record his State of the City address that will be released Monday on the city’s website — www.jamestownny.gov/live — and on social media.
“We didn’t feel it was safe and prudent to have an event,” he said.
Sundquist didn’t go into great detail about what he will discuss in his addressed, but he did tell The Post-Journal topics will include the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, public safety, neighborhood housing and financial concerns.
“The overall theme for the speech is rebuild, rebound and adapt,” he said.
The mayor said he spent much of his first year in office reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, now that it’s 2021, the city needs to change from being on the defense to taking charge during the ongoing pandemic.
“We need to move from a reactive mode to being more proactive,” he said. “We need to move the city forward by being progressive despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
Sundquist said one way of being proactive in 2021 is to continue assisting as many businesses as possible to keep them in operation or to get them back in business.
“The city has to play a role in marketing ourselves and marketing ourselves to businesses that might want to come here because we can provide a remote workforce at a low cost,” he said. “One way we can rebound is to attract a remote workforce and look at businesses necessary in the 21st century. We need to start to market Jamestown, not just for being a place to visit, but also a place to invest in.”
As far as the financial picture for Jamestown, the city was already facing numerous challenges before the COVID-19 pandemic. Sundquist said it’s too early to determine if a state control board will be needed to assist city officials out of its dire financial situation. He said the city is projected to have a deficit of $1.5 million in 2020, to go along with the estimated $1.1 million the city will be paying Jamestown Police Department employees following the failed arbitration case, which will probably be matched with $1.1 million also being retroactively paid to members of the Jamestown Fire Department.
“Yes, we know about the deficit. Yes, we know about the arbitration ruling we will have to pay out,” Sundquist said. “What we don’t know is how much support we will receive from the state and federal governments. That is still up in the air.”
Sundquist said, following the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of cities in the state of New York are facing the same financial challenges.
“Several cities are in the same position we are now,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat.”
Sundquist said one bit of good news for city officials is that Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his proposed 2021 state executive budget that there is potentially only a 10% cut in state aid to municipalities. Sundquist said city officials thought the cut was going to be 20%. He added that city officials might also receive some of the funding the state withheld from municipalities in 2020.
“There is a possibility of having less of a deficit, but that is going to rely on federal aid,” he said.