JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown City Council will hold its monthly voting session Monday at city hall and the highlight of the agenda is a vote on the 2019 city budget.
Since Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi rolled out his $36 million executive budget proposal on Oct. 9, council members have held several budget work sessions to review the proposed spending numbers for each department. However, the council has yet to spend any time publicly reviewing and/or discussing the 50+ revenue lines in the budget.
The budget relies on $1 million in additional state aid from New York State to help revenue match expenses. The additional aid, which would follow a trend from the previous two budgets, is due to the city not being able to increase property taxes any higher because it is already at its constitutional taxing limit. The tax levy for 2019 is $16,012,000, the same amount as 2018.
With the exception of first-year councilman Andrew Liuzzo (R-at Large), the no council member has suggested or asked about any changes to the budget.
Mayor Teresi has said there really are no areas to cut expenses, but during the council’s Oct. 29 work session, Liuzzo asked if the departments could at least muster a small cut.
“What I want to ask is if the departments can take a look again, and help the mayor, and look for a 2 percent cut in what you’re asking. Look to see if you can work on 98 cents as opposed to a dollar,” Liuzzo said during the Oct. 29 meeting. “In private industry and any venture that is yours, if you’re not making the revenue you’ve got to make cuts. You make cuts.”
Since Liuzzo asked that question, no department – other than the city police department – has come forward with what a 2 percent cut would do to their operations. The matter has also not been addressed in any of the council’s subsequent meetings.
Liuzzo had a series of other suggestions to rein in spending and according to a Nov. 23 post on his Facebook page, he had emailed a list of those suggestions to all other council members and the mayor’s office, but has yet to receive any feedback.
“I asked that we look into what is past practice or mandated. I asked that other members of council make some suggestions. I asked that we do this to help the Mayor when he asks the State for help. More importantly to demonstrate to our citizens that everything that can be done is being done. There has been no response from anyone on this email that was sent to the Mayor, city council and the department administrators,” Liuzzo wrote.
As of Monday morning Nov. 26, there have been no proposed amendments filed by any city council members, with the budget vote slated for Monday night. However, any council member can bring an amendment to the floor prior to the vote if they wish.
The council will hold a brief work session at 7 p.m. in the Mayor’s Conference Room, 4th floor of City Hall. The November voting session begins at 7:30 p.m. on the 2nd floor of City Hall. Both meetings are open to the public.
The council has until Dec. 1 to pass a spending plan or the executive budget will go into effect.