JAMESTOWN – The 2016 Jamestown City Budget will be hard and ugly.
Those are the words Mayor Sam Teresi used to describe next year’s spending plan, telling the Jamestown City Council Monday night that it is the most challenging budget he’s seen since 2001 and 2002 – his first two years in office when the city had to cut numerous positions and services in order to offset a multi-million dollar structural deficit.
Teresi still has a couple more weeks to finalize his executive budget before passing it on to the city council. He said between now and then, he and city comptroller Joe Bellitto and city clerk Jim Olson will be working on closing a $3.3 million dollar deficit for an estimated $35 million spending plan.
Teresi said several challenges combine to make it a difficult budget, including the rising cost of healthcare benefits, mandated salary increases, pension contributions, the state tax cap, and no ‘magic bullet’ in terms of new or existing revenue. The mayor said that unlike private businesses, the city is obligated by law to pay specific expenses – including salaries and healthcare contributions.
The mayor also said that he and his staff during the past 16 years have worked hard to identify 76 different cost-saving measures, adding that there is little to nothing new that can be done to close the deficit that has already been implemented. However, he said that during the next two weeks he and his administration will continue to look at all possible options in an effort to close the looming budget gap.
The mayor will present his executive budget on Wednesday, Oct. 7 at 4 p.m. From there it will go to the city council for its review and finalization before the end of the year.