City Budget Comes Out Tuesday

By the rules established in Jamestown’s charter, the executive budget will be released Tuesday.

The executive spending plan will include a summary package that will have a budget memo from Jamestown City Mayor Sam Teresi, charts, graphs and numbers detailing the proposed 2014 financial plan. The budget summary package will be available for viewing on the city’s website – jamestownny.net – following its release Tuesday. Copies of the full budget will be made available to the public at the James Prendergast Library and at City Hall in the mayor and clerk offices.

YEAR LONG PROCESS

When asked when city officials start working on the budget, Teresi said once the previous spending plan has been adopted. The mayor compared it to players training to prepare for the football season. Once upon a time, football was a late summer and fall seasonal sport. Players would show up, train and play games into the winter, but were done by spring.

However, now the finely tuned athletes who play the autumn sport train year-round for their time on the gridiron.

“The budget process is a year-round venture,” he said. “By the time the 2014 budget is put in place and we start administering it, we’re already working on the 2015 budget.”

Teresi said through the year he receives monthly updates from department heads and then he shares that information with his budget team Joseph Bellitto, Jamestown comptroller, and James Olson, finance director and city clerk. In June, the process gets ramped up when budget forms get delivered to department heads and to officials at three agencies that receive support in the city’s budget the James Prendergast Library, Fenton History Center and the Jamestown Area Senior Citizen Center at Jamestown Community College. The mayor said he gets the budget forms back in July, and that is when he starts meeting with his budget team.

“They (the budget meetings) start once a week, then they’re twice a week and, now, they’re five, six or seven times a week,” Teresi said.

NO LATE BUDGETS FOR THE CITY

Unlike the federal or state budget, there is no late spending plan for the city of Jamestown. Teresi said the city’s charter prevents a late budget. According to the mayor, the city’s charter was changed around 2004 to ensure an on time financial plan is always in place. On Oct. 8 the executive budget is released. By Dec. 1, the Jamestown City Council needs to pass a budget or the original executive budget goes into effect for the city’s fiscal year, which is Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

“By default, I have to put out a realistic budget,” he said.

Teresi said the legislative branch – City Council – has authority over the budget. The council will start budget worksessions on Monday, Oct. 21, and work through each department’s budget to finalize a spending plan. If the council adopts the budget by the Dec. 1 deadline, Teresi then has a week to decide if he will veto any line item in the budget. If Teresi does veto an item, the council then will have a chance to override with a supermajority vote.

PUBLIC OVERSIGHT

Teresi said public input on the budget leads city officials to be more aware of what issues are really affecting residents. He said awareness, interest and involvement by the public has a positive impact on the spending plan.

“The public has helped us restructure city operations. They drive us to be more creative,” he said.