JAMESTOWN – After a year of much uncertainty, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist delivered his State of the City address, showcasing how much the city has overcome during the past few years.
“In the height of the coronavirus pandemic, we were in dire financial straits, unsure of needed Federal and State government assistance to escape the oncoming crisis. This, combined with the City’s considerable legacy costs and tax rate right near the tax cap, meant we were headed straight for a Financial Control Board,” explained Mayor Sundquist.
The mayor continued that the city was looking at severely diminished services in the upcoming years, even with an emergency plan. However, Sunquist says the city’s financial situation has improved over the last year from multiple angles.
“Strong growth in sales tax and home values producing increased revenue, coupled with judicious and conservative budgeting, have combined to create a large increase in fund balance,” claims Sundquist.
The mayor also noted the contribution of the new retiree health care plan which will allow the city to save over $200,000 a year, and each retiree to save over $1,500 a year in premium costs. Additionally, $28 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act will be invested in residents, neighborhoods, health, infrastructure, and local businesses.
The various departments across the city have completed numerous feets over the year, including the Jamestown Police Department.
“According to our latest estimates, property and violent crime dropped in the City year over year. The Police Department also seized more firearms and drugs in the City, showing the effectiveness of our Metro Drug Task Force,” boasts Sundquist. “Additionally, we added a number of new officers this year including K-9 Hope, who has assisted in more than 70 details as a comfort dog for victims of domestic violence.”
The SWAT Team also met incredibly high standards this year, keeping the community safe.
The Jamestown Fire Department implemented a new EMS billing system and acquired a new fire reporting software which will save taxpayers $200,000 yearly.
State funding led to an increase in work for the Department of Public Works, which created over 5,800 feet of new sidewalk, 8,100 feet of new curbs, and 90 new handicap ramps, just to name a few of their accomplishments.
“Our Department of Development continued to deal with housing related issues, and has taken a more active role in holding absentee landlords to account through Vacant and Zombie Property lawsuits, filing over 40 lawsuits and many more in the pipeline,” says the mayor.
Sundquist continued that all the office’s of the city made extraordinary efforts this year to make Jamestown a better place for its residents to live.
The mayor also looked to the future of Jamestown, listing improvements that must be made to increase safety.
“That is why I am announcing a new Vision Zero campaign for Jamestown, which aims to eliminate fatal and serious injuries from traffic accidents through design. Our schools are mostly located in high traffic areas with high speeds,” explains Sundquist. “The reality is that we can prevent these tragedies by taking a proactive, preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety as a public health issue.”
The mayor also plans to enhance and connect the waterfront, and to make Jamestown a destination for tourists and potential homeowners. Transportation, broadband, and new business opportunities such as the cannabis industry are set to be improved in the near future.