JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — Lawmakers in the City of Jamestown are questioning the legality of committing the municipality to the New York State Climate Smart Communities Pledge.
The pledge would allow city leaders to act upon and make ordinances to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate according to state standards.
“The pledge is that the city is otherwise committed to hazard mitigation, community resilience, and finding the strategies and pathways to produce that,“ explained Principal Planner, Ellen Shadle.
What concerns lawmakers the most, is the liability that the city would face if they make the pledge but cannot follow through.
“I think there is a misunderstanding, both between the public and the council with some unanswered questions,“ said Councilwoman Kim Eckland. “And I asked specifically if the legal team had looked at it before we signed anything and they had not. So, just to cover our bases and make sure we’re not locked into something we cannot get out of.”
If the city does adopt the pledge it would help when applying for federal funding.
“Under the current presidential administration, there is an executive order that 40 percent of any federal investments that relate to climate change, green energy, energy efficiency, affordable housing, workforce development, and any remediation or reduction of pollution or cleaning of water must go to disadvantaged and underserved communities,“ explained Mayor Eddie Sundquist. “Jamestown is one of those communities. So in our federal applications, we receive additional ratings because we are considered a Justice40 community.”
The ordinance was on the city’s January voting session, but was tabled pending an analysis by the municipalities legal team and the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities.