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WJTN News Headlines

Chautauqua County's top-elected official says the county legislature won't vote this month on a modified version of a resolution to increase the local sales tax from 7.5 to 8-percent.  County Executive Vince Horrigan says he wants to get feedback from lawmakers first about the changes state lawmakers from the region want to make to the county's request.  State Senator Cathy Young recently announced that she wants to include language that the county would cut its tax levy by 3-percent -- or 2-million dollars -- as part of the request. Horrigan says they have received some draft legislation from both Young and Assemblyman Andy Goodell... and, he says he'll be talking with the legislature's Audit and Control Committee about drafting a final measure.  With the state legislative session running until June... he feels a May vote will leave enough time for state lawmakers to act on final Home Rule Legislation.


Early figures for the first quarter of 2015 are looking better -- overall -- than the first-quarter of last year in the city of Jamestown.  City Comptroller Joe Bellitto says he won't have first-quarter sales tax figures for another two to two-and-a-half weeks... but, he says they do have preliminary numbers for the Board of Public Utilities Payment-in-lieu of Taxes.  Bellitto says two divisions look good... but, three others are a little short of projections.
Bellitto says there are two areas of concern regarding the 2015 budget... the first is the overtime budget for the Public Works and Parks Departments.  He says that number is just over 347-thousand for the first three-months of 2015.  Bellitto says that's 41-percent of the total budget used so far... and, is about 6-percent more than this time last year.  He also says the DPW has also used up most of it's 2015 Salt Budget -- a total of 95.4-percent.  However... Mayor Sam Teresi says... had the city not invested in a new Salt Barn on Steele Street... it probably would have been worse.  On a positive note... Bellitto says the city's fuel budget was down 20-percent in the first quarter.


Authorities in Warren, PA are investigating a "suspicious death" in that city.  The Warren Times Observer reports that Police, The District Attorney's office and the County Coroner's office were called to 701 and a half west Fifth Avenue about 5:30 Wednesday afternoon. They were on the scene until after 9pm. Warren Police Chief Raymond Zydonik says the initial call was for a medical emergency, upon arrival that changed to a reported "unattended death of a female."  Coroner Jerry Borden said he has not established the cause of death and could not release the name of the deceased until next of kin were notified. Chief Zydonik is call the death "Suspicious."


Participation in the statewide English assessment tests was above 90-percent for the two largest school districts in Chautauqua County.  That from Jamestown Superintendent Tim Mains... who says the number of students taking the standardized tests Tuesday was 98 to 99-percent of third through eighth graders.  In Dunkirk... Superindent Gary Cerne says the number of refusals were only about 9.3-percent.  Statewide... authorities say thousands of students sat out the first day of the tests.  Reports from around the state indicate varying levels of participation in the Common Core-aligned tests, which continue Wednesday and Thursday.  While about 98 percent of third- through eighth-grade students in Schenectady sat for the assessments Tuesday, only about 30 percent of eligible students in West Seneca did.  Parent critics and teachers unions say the tests and time spent preparing for them take away from creative instruction and that tying results to annual teacher rankings has worsened the problem.  But... state Education Spokesman Jonathan Burman says refusing to take the test deprives parents and taxpayers of information about how students are doing.


A coalition from New York's political 'right' and 'left' is calling for the suspension of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Start-Up NY economic development program.  The group includes the state Conservative Party and the National Federation of Independent Businesses from the right and the left-leaning Working Families Party and Fiscal Policy Institute.  In a statement Wednesday... the coalition says Start-Up NY should be shut down pending a detailed audit following a report showing that so far the year-old program has created only 76 of the nearly 2,100 jobs promised over five years in return for tax breaks.  Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long says the program unfairly creates winners and losers. Working Families Party director Bill Lipton questioned the costs of marketing the program.  State officials -- including Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul -- say Start-Up NY is in its early stages.


The first three winners in the "I Love CHQ Video Challenge" for homemade video's that best promote some aspect of Chautauqua County have been announced.  County Executive Vince Horrigan was joined by Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau Executive Director Andrew Nixon for the announcement... along with some of the sponsoring entities at Chautauqua Institution.  Horrigan came up with the idea as a way to promote the fact there's a lot of "neat stuff" going on in the county. Horrigan says the winners include Tracie DeMotte (Dih-Mot) from Panama... David Saxton of Jamestown... and, Roslin Smith of Fredona.  Each received 250-dollars for winning in one of five catagories.  The overall theme for the contest... which is being paid for through sponsorships... is "What Do You Love about Chautauqua County?"  For the most part... the three video presentations involved Winter scenery with a musical background.  One did involve a short video clip.  Nixon says they has a total of five entries for the first quarter... and, they're hoping for more in the second quarter... which is now underway.  For more information on the "I Love CHQ Video Challenge..." Nixon says you can go on line to Facebook-dot-COM... slash "TourChautauqua." 


ew York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reported taxable income of $327,516 in his fourth year as the state's top lawyer.  That included more than $49,000 from ordinary dividends and $127,000 in capital gains on investments.  Schneiderman, who investigated the 2008 collapse of mortgage-backed securities that contributed to the recession, invests in mutual funds handled by financial manager Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade.  His 2014 federal return shows $150,971 from salary, $19,957 from tax-exempt interest and federal taxes of $67,184 paid.  His overall income is up about $30,000 from a year earlier, mainly from additional capital gains.


Manufacturing activity in New York state shrank this month for the first time in four months... a sign that the strong dollar and sluggish consumer spending may be holding back factories.  The Federal Reserve Bank of New York says that its Empire State manufacturing index fell to negative 1.2 reading from a plus 6.9 in March.  The latest reading is the lowest since December.  A measure of new orders fell for the third straight month to negative-6, which suggests output may remain sluggish in the coming months.  However... a gauge of hiring rose.  The survey provides an early look at U.S. manufacturing each month.  The New York Fed surveys 200 businesses in the state and typically receives responses from 100.