JAMESTOWN – The city of Jamestown faces several challenges in 2014 but with continued cooperation and teamwork, it will be able to meet those challenges and provide a bright future for city residents.
That was the overall message from Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi, who delivered his annual State of the City address to the Jamestown city council Monday Night during its monthly voting session.
Teresi spent the better half of his speech outlining the numerous successes from 2013, which included an improved bond rating, which – for the fist time in more than three decades – was restored back to an “A” category.
“In October of this past year, the city was assigned an ‘A-minus’ rating, with a ‘stable outlook’ by Standards & Poor rating service. This new classification and positive financial forecast for our city will result in lower future interest costs for city taxpayers and will reduce the price of all major capitol projects, including those sponsored by our Board of Public Utilities and thus, this will benefit utility customers not only in the city but throughout the greater Jamestown region.”
Among the other highlights the mayor pointed to was the refinancing construction bonds that resulted in an annual savings of $114,000, construction projects and improvements to both City Hall and the Board of Public Utilities, the continued development and expansion of the city river walk project, the effort to study the possible consolidation of services between the city police and county sheriff’s office, and new contract agreements with both the city and fire departments.
As for 2014, the Mayor said the city will again continue to look for ways to reduce spending in the annual budget, while also maintaining the same level of service for residents. He said part of that process is pressuring Albany to address the issues that are the main reason why property taxes are so high across New York state.
“I’m referring to unfunded mandates, like the local share of medicaid that is pushed down onto our counties; binding arbitration for police and professional fire fighters; the tri-borough amendment to the state’s Taylor Law; Sections 207-A and 207-C of the general municipal law covering fire and police disability retirement; and the real property tax law itself,” Teresi said, adding “And as it relates to the real property tax law, is high time to starve and tame the exemption beast that is literally killing local budgets and creating classifications of winners and losers among our local citizens and tax payers.”
- READ THE ENTIRE 2014 STATE OF THE CITY
The mayor said that the city does have the ability to control spending at the local level and he urged lawmakers to work together to continue to find cost savings when ever and where ever possible. He said that includes continuing to look into partnerships and shared services with local governments, as well as bringing in new businesss and economic development to the city.