MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua County Legislature has proposed additional changes of $571,000 to the Wendel County Executive’s proposed budget for 2023. To cover costs, they are seeking to delay Jamestown Community College’s proposed football field for now, but say they are committed to doing something in the future.
In September, Wendel proposed a budget of $207,364,119 for 2023. Of this amount, $69,681,835 corresponds to the levy, the amount collected through local taxes. His budget proposal calls for a property tax rate of $7.80 per $1,000 of property assessment, 30 cents less than the current property tax rate of $8.10.
Last week, the county legislature reviewed the budget through its committees. On Friday, there were still a number of unanswered questions, so the Audit and Control Committee held a special meeting on Thursday to continue examining the budget and discussing the budget with Wendel.
At Thursday’s meeting, a number of minor changes were noted. According to the committee members, they recently learned that the cost of salt will be on the rise this winter, higher than initially expected. They learned that the county’s share required for retirement would increase. They wanted to add $25,000 to the Ministry of Land and Water so they could add staff to write grants.
A decrease in revenue was for County Clerk’s Office fees for the Department of Motor Vehicles. The county only receives money from vehicle registrations done in person, not those done online.
“More people are doing things electronically,” said chief financial officer Kitty Crow.
She recommended reducing expected revenue by $150,000 and said the county needs to prepare for a reduced and continued DMV review in the coming years.
Committee members agree.
“If you can do it (record) at home on your computer, why wouldn’t you?” said lawmaker David Wilfong, R-Jamestown.
With the budget changes, committee members were told it would push the county’s budget above the state’s 2% tax cap, something lawmakers were reluctant to do. It would also push the property tax rate to $7.87 per $1,000 of property assessment, 7 cents higher than what Wendel proposed.
Lawmaker Terry Niebel, R-Sheridan, suggested cutting the proposed football field, which was expected to cost the county $941,000. JCC would still need money from its own budget and the state to complete the project, which was expected to cost $4 million, but wanted county approval as a first step.
“I’m having trouble funding the CCG athletic field for $950,000 when we’ve just increased that budget by $570,000. I think we still have to explore other options like Diethrick Park. … I don’t know why they can’t use the state of Fredonia. Fredonia State has a football stadium with grandstands and everything. It’s made for football. said Niebel.
Wendel said JCC contacted SUNY Fredonia, Jamestown High School and other county locations, but none were working.
“They had to go to Bolliver-Richburg (70 miles away) for a home football game,” he said. “It’s not a luxury. JCC football teams practice from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., as that is when they can travel to Jamestown High School or other nearby fields. »
Wendel said JCC has a grass football pitch, but quickly becomes unusable when it rains heavily. They are looking to install AstroTurf terrain, something even public schools have.
“Jamestown High School has been going for 30 years now that they have a grass pitch”, he said.
Lawmaker Tom Harmon, R-Silver Creek, asked Wendel if there had been talk of expanding Diethrick Park, where the Jamestown Tarp Skunks play.
Wendel said that was a possibility.
“It is an ongoing discussion that has been resurrected. Having said that,…. there is an investor who has ties to Chautauqua County who is looking for ways to invest and his question was, “What are the local people doing?” he said.
Wendel said if the county commits to funding a project, whether at Diethrick Park or elsewhere, it could initiate a major project for the college.
Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Pierre Chagnon said he liked the idea of expanding Diethrick Park more than creating a $4 million stand-alone soccer field.
Wendel said the problem with Diethrick Park is the cost.
“These numbers have been talked about, but it’s a much, much bigger number,” he said.
But Chagnon replied,
“It’s a much bigger opportunity to use an underutilized facility.”
“This is one of the most expensive parks we have in the city of Jamestown,” he said.
The football field was to be paid for using county reserves. Niebel proposed using $571,000 from reserves to pay for budget increases and leaving the remaining $370,000 in reserves.
County Attorney Stephen Abdella said if lawmakers wanted, they could keep the remaining funds in reserves, but set them aside to begin setting aside money for sports field purposes.
He said the Legislature also has the ability to borrow money for JCC capital projects if it wishes.
Chagnon said the county could also add to the $370,000 in some reserve funds to show the JCC that the county is committed to developing athletics, but not a $4 million football field.
All committee members accepted this concept and authorized the removal of the CCG soccer field from next year’s budget and the use of this money to pay for additional expenses. They also agreed to set up an investment project account using their reserve funds after JCC returned to the county with options for Diethrick Park.
Budget Director Kathleen Dennison said that as JCC funds came from capital reserves, where the changes now come from, it will have no impact on the tax rate. The new tax rate is still $7.80 per $1,000 of property assessment, which is 30 cents lower than the current year. The budget also does not exceed the state’s 2% tax cap.
With the changes made, lawmakers are expected to revisit them next week at committee meetings and vote on the budget at its Oct. 26 plenary meeting.