The city of Jamestown wound up just over 146-thousand dollars to the good in 2015... but, that was thanks -- in large part -- to using a lot of the city's undesignated fund balance last year. That from City Comptroller Joe Bellitto... who gave the City Council his unaudited, year-end summary of last year's books during last night's work session. Bellitto says it was another challenging year for the city... with spending about half-a-million dollars over budget. In particular... Bellitto pointed out that the city was over-budget on the benefits line by 379-thousand dollars. He says health insurance will continue to be a major expense that keeps increasing... especially because 60-percent of the people on the city's self-insurance plan are retirees. Bellitto says budget "positives" included sales tax revenues coming in at 1.4-percent over budget... while the city's contributions to the state Retirement System came in 130-thousand dollars under budget. The final, third-party audit of the budget is expected sometime this Spring.
The New York state Assembly and Senate are backing competing budget proposals reflecting their chambers' priorities as legislative leaders and Governor Andrew Cuomo work to hammer out a state spending plan. A plan endorsed by the Republican-led Senate Monday includes 1.7-billion dollars more for schools, along with tax cuts for small businesses and the middle class and $167 million to fight opiate drug addiction. A proposal headed to a vote Monday night in the Democratic-led Assembly includes a 2.1-billion-dollar increase in public education funding, the phase-in of a $15 minimum wage and higher taxes on millionaires. Both chambers support a proposal to allow workers to take paid time off to care for a new child or sick loved one. Lawmakers hope to pass a final state budget by April 1st.
A leader in the state Senate says it's Assembly Democrats who are slowing down ethics reform in Albany. State Senator Cathy Young says -- given the resistance by the Assembly -- she's not sure if there will be ethics reform in the legislature this year. During a recent appearance in Jamestown... Young says Senate Republicans favor ethics reform... especially in the wake of two convicted leaders who are now getting their pensions. Those two leaders are former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver... and, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos... who were both convicted of federal corruption charges. Young says Senate Republicans are continuing to press the Assembly to approve the measures they have. However... on the issue of Campaign Finance reform... the Olean Republican says her constituents don't like using a New York City plan where 6-dollars of taxpayer money matches each dollar of private campaign funding. Young says residents in her district would rather see the money go to local school districts... or hospitals.
County Executive Vince Horrigan says he has established the membership of his Regional Solutions Commission, with the first meeting to be held later this month. Horrigan says the commission, which will be chaired by County Legislator George Borrello of Silver Creek will include a number of representatives from government, the private sector and labor. He says the first meeting will be held a week from Thursday... and be held at the County Emergency Services Office in Mayville. He says they'll begin identifying state support for such measures. The members include: Richard Alexander, member of the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation's Local Economic Development Committee... Rick Johnson, a retired CPA... and, Todd Tranum, President/CEO of the County Chamber of Commerce. The Regional Solutions Commission will focus on the areas of public safety, infrastructure and local government.
County officials are disappointed... but, efforts continue to land a buyer for the former Carriage House plant in the city of Dunkirk. The facility has been idle since ConAgra's decision to close it in January of 2015. Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan has confirmed that a recent buyer interested in acquiring the facility has backed out, despite a fairly substantial state incentives package. Horrigan says the county's Industrial Development Agency continues to market the property. He adds a portion of the plant will be leased out to Cott. Horrigan says they're looking -- at this point -- to see how the facility may fit into their plans. He adds they're also working with the Buffalo-Niagara Enterprise Zone to find another buyer. About a year ago... Horrigan announced that a food manufacturer was set to acquire the plant and that at least 250 jobs were expected. He is hoping the latest marketing efforts will yield a similar type of buyer.
Local Congressman Tom Reed has signed on as a co-sponsor of bi-partisan legislation that would make it more difficult for Iran to test ballistic missles. Reed says the legislation... introduced by Maryland Democrat John Delany... is in response to last week's testing of two missles by the Middle Eastern nation. Reed is also calling on the Obama Administration to condemn the tests... which he says violate U-N Sanctions that had been put in place. Reed says one missle reportedly had the words - "Death to Israeli" written in Hebrew on it. While there are sanctions in place that could be used against Iran... the Corning Republican says there are some newer sanctions included in this legislation... including financial restrictions. Last october... Iran tested a ballistic missle that was reportedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. That's furthered the argument that the Iranians are close to developing nuclear weapons. Reed made his comments during his weekly telephone conference call with Southern Tier Media.
A Lakewood woman who has been a volunteer at the Lakewood Memorial Library for some 40 years has received national recognition for her efforts. The Library last night held a reception for Diane Jordan... who recently received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award for Lifetime Achievement from President Obama. She received a letter, and medal from the White House in honor of her more than 45-hundred hours of volunteer service to the library. There were also commendations, and other recognition from Congressman Tom Reed, and State Senator Cathy Young. Diane is a retired member of the Media One, and James Broadcasting families... and, our congratulations on her recognition.
A proposal to allow marijuana to be prescribed for a list of medical conditions is heading to the Pennsylvania House floor, where it could face changes before a final vote. The House began taking up more than 220 amendments to the bill Monday... and, it could be Wednesday or later before the chamber decides whether to approve the legislation. The 69-page bill under consideration passed the Senate in May by a vote of 40 to 7. The Medical Cannabis Act would empower a state board to license growers, dispensers and processors. Patients would need a written certification from a doctor or nurse confirming they have a qualifying condition