JAMESTOWN – Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist’s 2021 State of the City Address contained positivity and optimism, but it also provided a dose of reality that he says the City must address in the coming year.
Sundquist delivered his address to the City Council and public live Monday afternoon on the official City of Jamestown website. The Mayor, throughout his first year in office, publicly detailed the financial strain that the City has experience before and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This past year has only made our financial situation more dire,” Sundquist said during his address. “We used to be one of the only municipalities across the state that was in this fiscal stranglehold, but given COVID, many municipalities throughout New York are now saddled with enormous deficits and even higher costs.”
“Local municipalities were on the front line of fighting COVID, and we must get our fair share to fully recover,” he added. “If not, the consequences will be dire.”
Sundquist says that the fiscal stress “continues to permeate” his conversations regarding the future of the City of Jamestown.
“We are a city that cannot raise taxes and is handicapped by our legacy employment costs,” Sundquist said. “Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we work with the City Council to solve our financial issues and find ways of raising revenues and reducing expenses.”
The Mayor says that the City will begin negotiating with its unions this year as all collective bargaining agreements will expire. He adds that the City will be working to “secure reasonable and responsible contracts.”
A healthcare advisory committee will be launched in 2020, according to Sundquist. He explains that the committee will be made up of union members, retirees, council members, and staff to evaluate healthcare costs and make recommendations on the city’s healthcare partners and overhead costs.
Sundquist also says that City needs to improve the neighborhood blight that exists outside of the Downtown area. The Mayor says that steps were taken to address the blight as the City, for the first time in decades, allocated money towards improving neighborhoods and providing money to “responsible homeowners” to make repairs to their home.
Sundquist, however, explains that the City needs to “hold out-of-sight neighborhoods” responsible for how they upkeep their properties. The Mayor says that the City will be looking at potentially establishing legislation that would force inspections of rental units in the City, as well as possibly creating a program that would reduce fees and fines for landlords who keep their properties up-to-date and are in “constant communication” with the City.
The Mayor furthers that the City will continue to work to push out crime and make sure that those who need mental health treatment get the help they need.
“I’m looking at you, 8th and 9th Streets between Main and Washington (Streets),” Sundquist said. “Your neighbors have had enough and we are going to come together as a community and turn it around.”
Sundquist says that the COVID-19 pandemic has “shown some monstrous divides” throughout the City. One of the issues involves the lack of minority-owned businesses in Jamestown.
In fact, the Mayor says there are zero registered with the State of New York. He says he hopes to change that by working with the Jamestown Local Development Corporation and the Small Business Association and local business consultants to help recruit, develop, register and support disadvantaged businesses.
Sundquist says the city has started the process to change its business loans to “provide greater lending potential” for those businesses.
The Mayor additionally explains that he hopes to increase quality childcare in the City through state funding.
Establishing a low cost, high speed broadband option will also be a goal for Sundquist in 2021. Sundquist says that the City has formed a Municipal Broadband Taskforce in an effort to explore the development of a municipal broadband program through Jamestown BPU.
Viewers can watch the full address below, or by clicking here.
This is part one of a two-part series chronicling Sundquist’s 2021 State of the City address.