City Department Heads Discuss Proposed Budget
Even with more than 40 capital projects being funded in the proposed 2022 executive budget, city of Jamestown government department heads still have projects they would like to have funded in next year’s spending plan.
On Monday, the Jamestown City Council held its first work session meeting to discuss the budget for the Jamestown Police, Fire, Public Works and Parks departments.
Timothy Jackson, Jamestown Police Department chief and city public safety director, said the largest need for the police department is new vehicles. He said for the first time since 2011, the proposed city budget includes the purchase of a new vehicle. However, he said, with most of the department’s vehicles over 100,000 miles, there is a need for more than just one new vehicle.
“The cars aren’t going to last much longer, that is a fact,” he said.
Jackson said the department usually uses driving while intoxicated asset forfeiture funds to purchase new vehicles. He said the current fund is at $30,000, which would only purchase one new vehicle. He added he doesn’t know when or how much money the police department might receive in asset forfeiture each year.
The police department also needs a new indoor shooting range, Jackson said. He said the department also needs a virtual reality machine to train for situations officers might encounter while on duty.
Matthew Coon, Jamestown Fire Department deputy fire chief, said the call volume for the department is up 9% compared to last year. He said the most needed items for the department include roof repairs for station 4, which is included in the proposed budget; station 5 floor repairs; backup generators; and new overhead doors.
During the work session meeting, Jeff Lehman, city public works director, was asked about two new positions in the proposed spending plan. He said the assistant public works position is in the preliminary budget because he is planning to retire in the next year or two and a “place holder” is needed to replace him once he retires.
The other position is a maintenance mechanic for the Jamestown Municipal Building. Lehman said currently only one city government employee knows how the city Municipal Building is maintained and there is a need for another person to know how it’s operated. Also, he said the one person that knows how to operate the building will also be retiring in the next year or two.
As far as capital projects, Lehman said he feels like a “kid at Christmas” because of the new vehicles and equipment in the proposed budget. However, he said more is still needed to ensure the Public Works Department can handle its regular activities. For example, he said the department uses two 1979 vehicles to plow sidewalks during the winter.
“I think we need a bigger bite of that apple,” he said.
Lehman said even with new vehicles like plow trucks in the proposed budget, he said more is still needed.
“We’re still behind the eight-ball,” he said.
Dan Stone, city parks manager, said he requested three new workers for the Parks Department because, with the addition of the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk, a new bike trail and the size of some of the parks, like Bergman, more help is needed.
“We don’t have the manpower to keep up with what is going on,” he said.
In other business:
¯ Ryan Thompson, city comptroller, provided a third-quarter financial update to the council. He said sales tax revenues are up 13.67% compared to last year and have increased 19% compared to 2019. He added that salaries and health insurance costs are within budget.
¯ Kimberly Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman and Finance Committee chairwoman, said the Finance Committee will not be approving any of the resolutions involving American Rescue Plan funding to hire new positions this month. She said these decisions will be made as the council continues deliberating over the proposed budget, which won’t be approved until next month.