JAMESTOWN – An organization representing the business interests of manufacturers across the southern tier has given Jamestown city lawmakers it suggestions on how to reduce the city’s proposed tax rate in 2013. The Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier – or MAST – has come forward with what it says is $900,000 in savings to the proposed city budget that was presented by Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi on Oct. 9.
MAST board member and spokesperson John Zabrodsky addressed the Jamestown City Council last night during the public hearing for the city budget, urging lawmakers to consider some of the recommendations.
“I’d like to reiterate that the position of MAST is that we need a zero percent tax rate hike for 2013,” Zabrodsky told council members. “In order to have the proper industrial, residential and commercial cost structure for the city going forward its really important that we keep property taxes in check. We need a place where we can have growth. It’s not a situation where we can have the status quo going forward.”
Following his comments to the council, Zabrodsky spoke with WRFA and talked about where the $900,000 in savings could be found. “There’s a contingency line item that’s worth $240,000,” Zabrodsky said, adding, “There’s also a line item relative to the department of development to the tune of $102,000. There’s a net medicare benefit that the city seems to be exploring at this point in time that seems to be worth at least $250,000.”
In addition to Zabrodsy’s comments, Todd Tranum from the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce also spoke, as did Wayne Rishell, treasurer of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. Both also urged the council to find a way to reduce to proposed tax increase for 2013. No other comments were made during last night’s public hearing on the budget.
Following the meeting, Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb said the city council has already reviewed many of the suggestions, and while lawmakers appreciate them, some may not be doable. However, he did say that the council remains committed to bring the tax rate down.
“We are definitely going to get it down below two-percent, we’re committed to that. We don’t want to have to go over the tax cap,” Rabb explained. “The question is, ‘How much lower?’ So as you can see there was still some ideas tonight and I’m expecting some more ideas between now and next Tuesday. There’s no doubt that it is going to be below two percent, I can’t imagine that it is going to be over two percent… but we can start chipping away at it and get it even lower.”
As it currently stands, the $33,452,000 proposed city budget is up over $390,000 compared to the current 2012 spending plan. It calls for a tax levy increase of $896,000 – which equates to a tax rate increase of 6.44 percent.
The city council began budget deliberations last night, with a tentative agreement to increase sales tax projections for next year by $125,000. That decision is based on the news that the city’s third quarter sales tax numbers for this year are much higher than what been projected.
The council will continue budget deliberations next Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m. Lawmakers plan to act on a final version of the 2013 spending later that evening at 7:30 p.m. during its regular voting session, which was rescheduled from its initial date on Monday.