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Council To Vote On Adding Public Safety Officers

Jamestown Police Department P-J file photo

Will the city of Jamestown add four new firefighters and three new police officers?

That question might be answered today as the Jamestown City Council is slated to vote on a resolution to add the additional public safety officers using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Earlier this month, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, along with Anthony Dolce, Jamestown City Council president; members of the council Public Safety Committee; Timothy Jackson, Jamestown Police chief and city public safety director; and Matthew Coon, deputy fire chief; held a joint press conference to announce adding the new employees to the police and fire departments. He said the new police officers will be used to create a gun violence unit and the four new firefighters will be used to operate a second EMS ambulance.

Last week during the council work session meeting, there were still some questions about how the new hires will impact union contracts, with the police under a new agreement that was reached in January and the fire department not under a current contract after the council turned down a proposal earlier this year that included hiring four new firefighters.

Questions include how the additional employees will affect the union impact payments based on how many officers or firefighters are working for the city. Also, if the plan is to return to the current number of employees in each department through attrition or retirements, when will that plan start? Will the new officers and firefighters hired during the ARPA program continue until 2027, when the federal money needs to be spent by or will attrition happen as soon as current officers or firefighters start to retire?

Last week, Dolce said it will cost about $800,000 for the seven new employees in 2026. Dolce also said city officials are looking to apply for grants to receive funding to possibly keep the additional employees working once the ARPA funds are expended.

Jeff Russell, At-Large councilman, said he wants the new police officers to be handling their new roles on the gun violence unit and handling nuisance complaints and not doing day-to-day duties. He said if the new officers handle day-to-day jobs and aren’t focused on the gun violence unit or nuisance complaints, it will be a waste of money and time to hire the new employees.

In other business, the council is slated to vote on a resolution to use $500,000 of ARPA funds for administration services for new programs the city has created to help local businesses and residents via the federal stimulus money. Earlier this month, Crystal Surdyk, city development director, said administering the newly created ARPA programs is a task city officials cannot do on top of all the other duties and activities they already handle. She said 13 new programs, so far, have been created that will be allocating more than $5 million, with more programs to be produced to appropriate additional funds.

Surdyk said the preliminary plan is to contract to hire 1.5 positions to administer the program. The full-time position would be paid $253,159 and the part-time worker would be paid $189,803 over four and a half years. At the end of the contract, the positions would be eliminated, and neither would receive fringe benefits.

Earlier this month, Sundquist said that if additional duties of administering the ARPA programs fall on current city employees, their bargaining units will most likely ask for the workers to receive higher salaries because of the extra responsibility.

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