Jamestown City Council continued discussions on how to use American Rescue Plan funds as new programs are proposed.
Council reviewed resolutions totaling $4 million in allocations that would create a Non-Profit Assistance Program, a Business Expansion & Building Acquisition program, a 19A Homeownership Program; and give funding to the Chautauqua County Land Bank.
Finance Committee Chair and Council member at Large Kim Ecklund, expressed concern that if all proposed allocations are approved in addition to a proposal to add more funding to the Senior Citizen Home Improvement program, that will leave just over $4 million left in unexpended ARP funds.
One proposal would give $1 million to the Chautauqua County Land Bank to create a First Time Homebuyer’s Assistance Rebate Program, to support the expansion of the Hands On Neighborhoods Program, and to assist in the Land Bank’s purchase of an information management platform.
Director of Development Crystal Surdyk said the Land Bank also will use funding to help with demolitions in the city. She said the city is limited by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to $150,000 for how they use federal funding for demolitions. With the average cost of demolitions around $30,000, Surdyk said the city runs out of funds fast every year.
She said there are 50 homes in need of demolition this year and that there are only about 4 local contractors who have the background to do the demo’s.
Council President Tony Dolce said demolitions are important, “Last summer when we had our meetings, a lot of people had spoken about, talked about that. We don’t have a large fund for demolition and I think we need to look at that.”
Ecklund said her concern was whether demolitions should be done internally or contracted out.
Council member Andrew Faulkner said that was one of his concerns as well, “Under their proposal, they’ve got $200,000 in administrative fees. They’re going to do demo’s. That’s quite a few demo’s in that $200,000 in admin fees that could be done.”
Surdyk said she will be passing along questions and concerns to Land Bank Executive Director Gina Paradis with hopes to have her at the next Council work session on October 17 to provide more details.