Council Adopts 2024 City Budget With Numerous Amendments
Though some concerns were raised, the Jamestown City Council on Monday unanimously approved the 2024 city budget that holds the line on taxes. More than a dozen amendments to the $40.15 million executive budget were brought forward and then unanimously approved by the council.
Afterward, Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2 and council president, thanked the council for “their diligent work” on the budget.
“It’s always a very difficult process,” Dolce said. “People can always argue this, that. Should we cut this? Should we add to that? Everybody always has their priorities and their agendas. … This is still a no-tax-increase budget; we just kind of rearranged the furniture a little bit internally in there.”
Among the 15 amendments brought forward, the council limited the pay increases Mayor Eddie Sundquist had proposed in his executive budget to department heads. Councilwoman Kim Ecklund, R-At Large, who also is chair of the city’s Finance Committee, noted that the mayor had requested “considerable raises” to the various city leaders.
After some review, the council members decided to lower the raises — including to the city clerk, engineer and comptroller — to 2.5% so they would fall in line with the unions they represent.
On Monday, the council also removed a request by the Jamestown Police Department to purchase an unmarked vehicle at a cost of $41,870. Three other vehicles the department requested were kept in the budget.
Ecklund, who won election for mayor earlier this month, said none of the changes were a surprise to the city’s department heads; she said she met with the city leaders prior to Monday’s voting session.
Afterward, Sundquist told reporters his “one area of concern (on the budget that was adopted) is the continual lowering of salaries for our department heads.”
He added, “It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to be able to hire, especially when the city has very low wages for management employees as compared to other municipalities across the state.”
In his executive budget, Sundquist said salaries were requested closer to the average of other municipalities based on a report from one of the city’s lobbying firms.
“To see those get cut, it’s only going to make it more difficult to continue to hire for those positions,” he said.
Asked if he planned to veto any of the amendments, Sundquist responded, “Well, I got five days to take a look at it and review. But, as of right now, none of the amendments really stood out at this point.”
During a work session meeting prior to Monday’s voting session, Ecklund said she had reviewed the 2024 budget with Joe Bellitto, former city comptroller. She noted that Bellitto had “some very strong concerns looking at the budget.”
She said Bellitto, who is part of her transition team as mayor-elect, is going to review the 2023 budget and next year’s spending plan over the next two weeks.
Ecklund said Dec. 11 could be used to make any further changes to the budget and also vote to potentially override any vetoes Sundquist may bring.
She said one of her main concerns with the 2024 budget is “hitting some of those revenue items” that were projected, noting specifically property and sales taxes.
“I think I’ll feel better after I have Joe (Bellitto) look at it,” she said.