Jamestown City Council has approved allocating another $3 million to home improvement and business improvement programs funded through the American Rescue Plan Act monies.
The Roof, Private Sewer Lateral, Private Water Line Repair/Replacement Program received an additional $2 million with the Building & Property Infrastructure Improvements program receiving an additional $1 million.
Council President Tony Dolce said both programs had originally been funded with $750,000, “When we first passed this several months ago, we weren’t sure how much we would need. This just increases the amount to cover some of the need that’s been out there that people have requested. So, it’s really good for the city, for the citizens, for the businesses in the community.”
Dolce said for the roof and sewer program, homeowners who had received letters saying they were approved pending more funding will now receive that funding. He said the application process will not be reopened for either the housing nor business program.
Council approved an agreement with Zambelli Fireworks in the amount of $19,500 for the Labor Day Fest fireworks show on Sunday, September 4.
Citizen Doug Champ spoke out against the funding of the fireworks show, saying the money would be better used to support or enhance the Parks Department, “You could buy 50 recycled park benches for $385. You can create a tree and shrubbery specimen botanical garden for people to look and observe various species that can grow in our zone with potential use in their property. You can buy 19 full-sized picnic tables at a thousand dollars a pop.”
Champ also cited negative environmental impact caused by fireworks as additional reasons for not funding the program.
Dolce said he understands that fireworks are expensive but it’s not something the city does on a regular basis, “People enjoy it. They’ve come to expect it, especially on Labor Day. A lot of people, that’s the highlight of the day for them. They go up and picnic. Again, I understand his concerns but I just think it’s one of things where the community.. it’s been three years since they’ve really had a chance to celebrate. And it’s not something we do every day and we try to do the best we can to make it as safe as possible.”
Dolce said the funding is coming from the city budget’s Parks Festival line.
Council tabled a resolution to fund the 19A Homeownership program with $750,000 of ARPA monies. Dolce said the Finance Committee had questions that were not answered prior to the voting session and that the resolution will likely be on the September agenda for reconsideration.
Council also approved appointments by Mayor Eddie Sundquist to the Salary Review Commission. Former City Comptrollers Joe Bellitto and Ryan Thompson were named to the advisory group as well as Heather Greenfield, who is the Financial Coordinator for the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.
Dolce said he, as Council President, as will have three appointments that he hopes to bring forward in September, “The City Charter requires that we put together a Salary Review Commission every four years to review the salaries of all elected officials. That would be the City Council as well as the Mayor. And then they make a recommendation back to the City Council as to what they think the salaries should be, should they be changed, added, whatever, and then the Council gets to vote on it.”
Any salary changes would not go into effect until January 1, 2024. Dolce added that the Mayor’s salary is $72,000 which hasn’t had an increase since 2008, “If you look at the list of salaried employees in the city, the chief executive officer (mayor) is way down at the bottom below firemen, policemen, and other city workers, so maybe it’s time to look at that. The City Council, it’s been 38 years since there has been an adjustment.”
Council members receive a $5,000 salary with the Council President receiving an additional $1,000 stipend.
Dolce also announced details have been finalized for a city-wide public forum. The event will be held at Christ First United Methodist Church located at 663 Lakeview Avenue at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, September 14. Dolce said Jamestown Police Chief Tim Jackson will be on hand to discuss and answer questions about public safety with Director of Development Crystal Surdyk also attending to discuss housing concerns. The forum is open to the public.