Jamestown city lawmakers got some good fiscal news during last night's work session. The city ended up 2016 with it's first budget surplus since 2010. That from City Comptroller Joe Bellitto... who gave his unaudited, year-end report... which showed that Jamestown wound up in the black by just under 97-thousand dollars. Bellitto attributed the surplus to two things... the first being taking in about 181-thousand dollars more than expected in miscellaneous revenues. That included getting nearly 300-thousand dollars more in state aid than expected. Bellitto says... the city was also able to bring the 2016 budget in about 325-thousand dollars under anticipated expenses. He says the biggest area of savings was in benefits... where the city saved just over 548-thousand dollars. With that... Bellitto says revenues exceeded spending by 506-thousand dollars. He adds that Jamestown also used 409-thousand dollars in fund balance to help balance last year's budget. With that... they found up with a 96-thousand-637 dollar surplus. In addition... Bellitto says the city also wound up with 65-thousand dollars that was unused in the contingency account. The city's final audit will be completed later this Spring.
A proposed cut of 175-million dollars in President Donald Trump's budget "blue-print" for 2018 would threaten the Essential Air Service program... which supports the county airport near Jamestown. That from U-S Senator Chuck Schumer of New York... who says Jamestown is one of several upstate communities facing huge funding reductions under the proposal. Schumer... who is Senate Minority Leader... is vowing to fight the cuts. County Executive Vince Horrigan says the county's 2-million dollar allocation supports local air carrier Southern Air Express... which has been working to boost it's passenger numbers. Horrigan says he's aware that there are two sides to the argument about the need for... and, against the Essential Air program. The Bemus Point Republican says he's also aware of the fact there have been cuts threatened to the EAS before... and, it has survived. He says haveing air service in Jamestown is important to supporting the county's "economic development initiatives." Some in the area have said they can reach their destinations easier, and cheaper, by flying out of Buffalo or Erie, Pennsylvania. Others, though, say it's especially needed for local corporations to do business.
Six area departments along with Chautauqua County Emergency Services responded to an early morning house fire Monday in town of Stockton. Stockton fire crews responded to the scene at 64-85 South Stockton-Cassadaga Road about 3:30 AM. Officials says they received mutual aid from Cassadaga, Brocton, Dewittville, Sinclairville and East Dunkirk. No injuries were reported... and, all of the residents were able to make it out of the house safely. Crews were able to get water from a nearby creek to help snuff out the flames, but, there was extensive damage to parts of the house. There are reports the blaze may have started as a dryer fire.
The local Red Cross is assisting five people left homeless by the fire in the town of Stockton. It's one of three fires the Red Cross responded to Monday morning in Western New York... including two in the Buffalo area. Chief Red Cross Communications Officer Jay Bonafede says the Red Cross usually gets a call from first responders. Bonafede says specially trained volunteers are sent to the scene and talk with and assist the victims. He says that help includes food, clothing and shelter... as well emotional support. Bonafede says fires are the number one disaster in Western New York and the Red Cross is asking every household to take two simple steps: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.
New York officials are warning about a tax-season scam in which email fraudsters pose as company executives to get employees' Social Security numbers. State tax officials say at least 65 companies with New York employees have been victimized by the identity thieves, compromising 71-hundred Social Security numbers. Scammers posing as company executives send emails to payroll and human resource departments requesting lists of employees and personal information. Officials urge people not to respond to emails demanding payroll data and Social Security numbers.
The need remains high... and, that's why Jamestown's largest soup kitchen had record numbers of local residents come by for a hot meal during the first month of 2017. St. Susan's Center Executive Director Jeff Smith says they served some 11,247 meals in January... which exceeded the previous record of 98-hundred meals set in January of 2016... by 15-percent. He says that followed an 18-percent drop-off from last December. Smith says the St. Susan's Center was on pace to serve 125-thousand meals in 2016... but, they ended up with 122-thousand-406. That was still a more than 25-hundred increase in meals served. He says their largest demographic of people coming to St. Susan's is between the ages of 18-to-64. However... he says the number of children are growing the fastest of any age group. Smith says that's why they continue to fund-raise over the Winter months, with their 'Soup and a Song' Series. The latest one will be this coming Saturday night. So far this year... Smith says St. Susan's has served 24-thousand-614 meals -- an 8.55 percent increase over last year at this time. For more information on St. Susan's... call 664-2253.
Advocates for the disabled, elderly and chronically ill in New York are concerned the state's move to a $15-dollar an hour minimum wage could deepen a shortage of home health aides. More than 180-thousand Medicaid patients in New York are authorized to receive long-term, in-home care, the most in the state's history. But... there are increasingly too few aides to go around, especially in the state's remote, rural areas. It's a national problem that advocates say could get worse when the state's $15 minimum goes statewide by 2021. It could potentially push low-paid health aides into other jobs, in retail or fast-food, that don't require hours of training or the pressure of keeping another person alive. New York state employs about 326-thousand home health workers, but is projected to need another 125,000 by 2024.