A Helping Hand

A volunteer program will be assisting city officials with finances and operating techniques.

On Monday, Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi announced to City Council they have been selected to be reviewed by the state Financial Restructuring Board. The state board is a voluntary program to assist municipalities.

”An outside set of eyes is always useful,” Teresi said about state officials examining city finances and operating techniques. ”We see this as a strong positive for the city.”

Teresi said Jamestown is one of several community, including Albany and Rochester, to be selected for review by the state Financial Restructuring Board. The mayor said in six to eight months the board will submitted a report with their recommendations for possible ways to improve. The mayor said last week several city officials had an orientation phone call with the board to start the review process.

In December 2013, Teresi first announced applying for the state review. The new state Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments was established in the state’s 2013-14 budget. The new state program will undertake a comprehensive review of the municipality’s finances and operations and then recommend ways to improve its fiscal stability and the delivery of public services. If recommendations made by the board are accepted, up to $5 million per municipality will also be available.

Teresi said if the 10-member review board, headed by Robert Megna, state budgeting director, does assist Jamestown, all recommendations made are voluntary to accept. City officials do not have to accept any recommendations from the group, however, if they don’t they will not be eligible for any state money to implement new operating and financial management techniques. Teresi said the state Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments is not the same thing as a state Financial Control Board, which takes over the operations of a struggling city.

In other business, Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, gave the year-end budget summary. He said the city had a deficit at the end of the year of $65,565. He said the deficit was mainly created by the city going over its original budget by $180,000 for salt expenditures this winter. Even though there was a deficit, it wasn’t as bad as the end of fiscal year 2011 and 2012. At the end of 2011, the city had a deficit of $350,760. At the end of 2012, Jamestown had a deficit of $268,044.

”Overall, it was a pretty decent year,” Bellitto said.

Teresi thanked city officials for their work in accurately predicting last year’s budget. He said predicting the city’s finances is a job that is not easy to perform.

”This budget was right on the numbers,” he said.