‘Very Difficult Project’

How to consolidate the Jamestown Police Department and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is still being examined.

On Monday, Jamestown City Council approved entering into a contract with the Center For Governmental Research for services related to completion of a police consolidation study for $10,000. After the City Council meeting, Greg Rabb, City Council president and member of the task force of local officials looking into consolidation, said they entered into the contract with the center for a third party to look over details of a possible consolidation between the two departments. Rabb said local officials haven’t been able to make headway with collective bargaining units as far as a possible police department consolidation. Rabb said when local officials last met they decided to continue looking for answers to consolidating the departments. Rabb said local officials still had money left from the original state grant to examine consolidation. In 2012, the Center For Governmental Research released a report detailing options for merging the two departments.

“This is certainly a very difficult project,” Rabb said.

Rabb said some people may say it is taking too long to come to a solution for a possible merger. However, he asked for people to be patient because Jamestown is the first city in the state looking for answers in how to consolidate city and county police departments.

“Jamestown is trying to find their way in the dark,” he said.

In other business, City Council approved to spend $30,000 for a new software system called MyGov to improve reporting housing violations. Anthony Dolce, Ward II councilman, said the new software will not only help code officers better perform their job duties, but will make it easier for citizens to report possible housing violations. Dolce said the money for the software came from the contingency budget, which will still have more than $200,000 after the purchase. He said city officials will still be available to hear from residents who want to report a housing violation, but the new software will allow people to file a report online.

“They can do the work themselves,” he said. “It will be much quicker for everyone involved.”

It will take about 90 days for the new code enforcement software system to be operational.

In other business, City Council approved entering into a contract with the Jamestown City Administration Association for the period covering Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2016. The bargaining unit had been operating without a new contract since 2012. Dolce said the contract calls for zero percent salary increases for 2012 and 2013; a 1.5 percent salary jump for 2014; and 2 percent raises for 2015 and 2016.

The new contract also states there will be an increase for how much employees pay for health insurance. Like the police and fire contract agreed to in December, the new agreement includes a wellness program. The Good Life Program is the name of the wellness plan BlueCross BlueShield is offering to health insurance groups. The goal of the program is to make individuals more accountable for how much they pay for their health insurance premium.

BlueCross’ wellness program was one of the main factors for city officials in reaching an agreement with fire and police union leaders last year. The contract agreement states that active and retired members of the union will need to participate in the Good Life Program in order to pay less for insurance. In 2015, if members participate they will pay 18 percent for health insurance. If they select not to participate in the program, they will pay 25 percent. In 2016, participants will pay 19 percent for health care coverage. Those who aren’t part of the wellness program will pay 26 percent.