The positions would be funded by a three-year $1.8 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant.
City Council members have expressed concern that they’d be faced with having to lay-off the firefighters if the grant money is not renewed.
Mayor Eddie Sundquist said while he understands that concern, this is an opportunity to make Jamestown safer, “As of right now, we close a fire station every shift. We still don’t have enough to run ambulances right now in the city. So, when you talk about being able to add on new fire fighters that are fully funded for three years by the Federal government – we’re talking salaries, benefits, all of those things – it’s a really unique opportunity for the city.”
Sundquist said by hiring the eight positions, there would be enough to operate a second ambulance.
City Council is expected to review a resolution to use $250,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to purchase that ambulance for the Fire Department.
Sundquist said the city generated $300,000 from billing insurance in 2022 with running the first ambulance, “Now, I don’t think you’re going to double it when you add a second ambulance, but I think you’re going to get close to that and certainly add more revenue which will make up for the cost of adding new firefighters.”
Council also will review a resolution to purchase splash pads from Aquatix by Landscape Structures, Inc. for $135,000. That funding, using American Rescue Plan monies, was approved at the March voting session.
The discussion of hiring an Ombudsman in the Office of the Corporation Counsel is on the agenda again. This position is proposed to replace the Associate Corporation Counsel position, which is being vacated by Ben Haskin.
Council also will review an proposed amendment to the City Code regarding the Director of Public works position. The proposed amendment would eliminate the requirement that the DPW Director have a professional civil engineer certificate. According to the staff report, most of the people who have applied for the position have applicable experience, but do not maintain or have a professional engineer license. The City has had difficulty finding candidates to replace former DPW Director Jeff Lehman, who retired March 31 after serving in the position for 29 years. The DPW Director position is being filled on an interim basis by DPW Project Engineer Mark Roetzer.
Council will hear a presentation by New York State Climate Smart Communities Coordinator Sarah Swinko. This presentation will precede the review of a resolution for the City to adopt the New York State Climate Smart Communities pledge.
According to the staff report, Climate Smart Communities (CSC) is a New York State program that helps local governments take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. The program offers grants, rebates for electric vehicles, and free technical assistance. In order to take part in the program, a municipality must pass a resolution to become a Registered Climate Smart Community.
The Housing Committee also will have a discussion on homeless shelters. That committee will meet at 6:45 p.m. with the other committees meeting at 7:00 p.m.
The full council work session will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Police Training Room on the fourth floor of City Hall. The public is welcome to attend all meetings with the work session being livestreamed on jamestownny.gov.