JAMESTOWN – Saying it’s time to send a different message to Albany, Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi delivered his 2013 State of the City Address last night in City Hall. During the annual report to the city council, the Mayor highlighted more than three dozen accomplishments achieved by the city during the past year. In addition, he laid out several goals he would like to see achieved by the end of this year.
At the top of the list was working toward a balanced and honest spending plan as well as continuing the effort to look at a possible consolidation between the city Police Department and the County Sheriff’s office.
The mayor also focused on Albany, saying the state needs to provide the city with more flexibility in how it runs local government.
“We are clearly not demanding a financial handout. We know that the state is in no position to send big bailout checks our way,” Teresi said. “What we are asking for is the state to give us the authority and the tools to become more creative, efficient, leaner and effective. And if this can be done, we at the local level will not merely cap, but will lower the highest property tax burden in the nation and make New York State an even more attractive place in which to invest and live.”
Teresi said in order for the city to achieve this flexibility, the city and other local governments need to pressure Albany to eliminate binding arbitration, which he says has led to unfair contracts with some city labor groups, in comparison to other labor organizations in the both the public and private sector.
The mayor is also calling for a reform of the state’s 1982 Triborough Amendment, which he says limits and discourages a true and effective collective bargaining process. And he is calling for Albany to reform a section of the state General Municipal Law, which would grants full pay and benefits to injured firefighters up to theage of 70. Teresi says this stipulation alone costs the city $230,000 in 2013 – or $.35 per thousand of assessed value on the city tax rate.
Teresi also called for a reform of the state’s real property tax law as it pertains to non-profit organizations and tax incentives given out by local Industrial Development Agencies.
On the local front, the mayor said he wants to continue looking for ways to develop the city and make it more business friendly. He says that begins with hiring a new city development director. Teresi also discussed improving the city’s housing inspection program, by creating a new “48 Hour Rule” to deal with complaints.
“During 2013, we will initiate what I like to refer to as the ’48 Hour Rule,’ in which every city complaint is logged, responded to and a resolution of the matter with or without court action is launched within two business days.”
In what may have been a first in the state of a city speech, the mayor acknowledged the city’s dependence on coal to operate its municipal power plant, saying it is time to convert one of the BPU’s boilers from running on coal to natural gas, which will serve as the next step towards the complete elimination of coal as an energy source in the city.
The mayor highlighted several other points in his address as well. A complete copy of the state of the city can be found on the city website, JamestownNY.Net.
The mayor’s full address to the city council will also be broadcast later this week on WRFA during our community matters program at 6 p.m. on Thursday.