Council To Vote Tonight

Jamestown City Council will be voting on a 2014 spending plan with a 2 percent tax levy increase today.

Monday is the last day the council is scheduled to meet prior to the Sunday deadline for the legislative body to pass next year’s budget. According to the resolution filed for passing the budget for today’s meeting, the tax levy will be $14,732,936 in 2014. This is an increase of $295,109 over this year’s spending plan. The tax levy is the money raised through property taxes.

Even though there is a tax increase, the amount has been lowered since the release of Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi’s executive budget on Oct. 8. City Council, through budget deliberations during work session meetings, has cut an additional $91,811 out of the fiscal plan. On Nov. 18, council voted to reduce the amount of money appropriated for the contingency fund and claims both by $20,000. So far in 2013, less money has been spent in both of these funds than what was allocated by the council last year.

Last week, an additional total of $18,000 was also reduced from the city’s Fire, Police and Public Works department budgets. These reductions go along with the first reduction in the proposed fiscal plan from earlier this month when council cut $32,000 from the budget.

This reduction was made from money saved by having an improved bond rating, which lowered the interest rate for refinancing the Main and Cherry streets parking garage ramp project. With the all of the budget changes, the spending plan now totals $14,732,936.

An area of the budget that could possibly still change – if City Council approves a spending plan – is the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities dividend payment. The BPU board has yet to approve the dividend payment and will not be meeting again until Tuesday, Dec. 3, after the deadline for the City Council to approve a budget. Gregory Rabb, City Council president, said it is the consensus of the council to support the executive budget request for $475,000 from the BPU. Teresi has proposed using $475,000 from the BPU’s electric and water revenues in next year’s city budget. The budget proposed taking $400,000 from the electric and $75,000 from water profits.

”I was hoping the BPU board would have passed (the dividend payment) at the meeting (Nov. 19) prior to the Dec. 1 deadline,” Rabb said. ”We will pass the budget that way (with the BPU revenues) and hopefully the BPU will pass the transfer in early December.”

Rabb said even if City Council would not approve a budget by Sunday, the BPU revenue payment would still be included in the mayor’s executive budget that goes into effect on Dec. 2 if council does not approve a spending plan. Rabb said he believes the BPU board will pass the dividend payment even though two board members – Wayne Rishell and John Zabrodsky – have made public statements against the proposal. Last year, the nine-member board passed the dividend payment by a vote of 6-3. In the 2013 city budget, $300,000 was used from electric and $120,000 was used from water revenues. This was the first dividend payment made to the city in more than half a century.

”I’m fully expecting that to happen,” Rabb said about the BPU board approving the dividend payment.