JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – As the year is coming to a close, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sunquist is looking ahead at 2023. Last week, the mayor shared his proposed budget for the new year.
In the past year, the city has seen rising property values, saved taxpayers in healthcare costs, maintained the tax rate, settled all union contracts, and has been labeled as a no “fiscal stress” city, as deemed by the New York State Comptroller.
The proposed budget would utilize $250,000 from the city’s fund balance, a decrease from last year’s proposed $700,000. The total fund balance sits around $7 million.
“We have not actually used fund balance in the last few years. We’ve been very lucky although we’ve allocated it, our revenues have exceeded our projections and we have not had to use a fund balance,” explains Sundquist.
Additionally, Jamestown’s 2022 debt limit is only 29.22 percent of its constitutional limit, meaning the city can borrow funds at a reasonable rate if need be.
“We are projecting a five percent increase in sales tax from last year. I do want to note that we are already over our budget for sales tax this year. We’re on track to exceed what we expected which was last year 2.2 percent increase,” boasts Sundquist.
Since taking office in 2020, the mayor has decreased the tax levy from almost 100 percent to 87 percent.
The mayor’s office expects a six percent property value increase next year, as well as $1.6 million in healthcare savings achieved by switching over half of eligible retirees to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
“Because of an agreement we made with Jamestown Community College and the funding of a grant writer, we’ve been able to secure $7.3 million in grant funding for programs. Jamestown is applying for more grants than ever to reduce our operating costs and fund new programs. It allows us to increase and continue our services without increasing the tax rate,” says Sundquist.
The city plans to hire for new positions in building maintenance, public works, and parks to build the city’s capacity.
The proposed budget will not include many capital projects, given there is still over $9 million in unallocated ARPA funds. So far, the city has spent almost $19 million of the funds. This has included substantial upgrades to IT infrastructure and hiring additional employees across multiple departments.
“We will soon be rolling out a connected community. What I mean by that is we’ll have an emergency alert system that will be rolling out this month for members of the public,” says Sundquist. “So they can receive information on parks and recreation, road closures, city news, utility updates, public safety alerts, extreme weather alerts, housing and neighborhood updates. We wanna keep the public and all of its residents informed.”
The proposed budget still must go through city council and additional amendments before it is passed.