It's too early to tell... but, the city of Jamestown may be looking at a multi-million dollar gap in the 2020 budget. And, Mayor Eddie Sundquist says lawmakers may have to take some "very tough and difficult measures" to keep the city above water as a result of the COVID-19 Crisis. Sundquist says... with businesses and several attractions closed... the news is sobering.
Sundquist says the good news is the city is in good financial shape going into 2020... and, first quarter sales tax are expected to exceed last years amount collected. He says he, and Comptroller Joe Bellitto and Deputy Comptroller Ryan Johnson will be developing a plan soon to deal with fall-out from the outbreak.
Bellitto earlier reported to City Council that there was good news from 2019, with revenues exceeding expenses by $1.39-million. He says that leaves the city's fund balance at $3.4-million. Sundquist says property tax payments were coming in well before the shut-down occured. He says sales tax figures from the second quarter will tell a lot. He also said he wants to avoid any lay-offs... but, added "we can't guarantee that."
Last night's Council work session was a first for the Jamestown City Council. The meeting was held remotely on Zoom... and included all council members, and department heads.
New York's Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul is expressing doubt as to whether one of Chautauqua County's major summer events can occur this year. Speaking on Media One station WJTN yesterday morning... Hochul said one of the questions they'll be asking about reopenings will be -- "is it a place where people are likely to gather in crowds.?" She says probably not.
Chautauqua Institution is scheduled to open June 27th. The institution's official website suggests only a couple of 'religious houses' on the grounds have cancelled programming so far. More information is expected around May 1st. The Lieutenant Governor also thanked New Yorkers for the extraordinary sacrifices they've made over the last month.
Hochul encouraged everyone to be patient with what will be a 'phased reopening' of activities, saying, "We don't want to have to go through this again." She says 'wide scale testing' for COVID-19 ... both diagnostic and for antibodies... will be coming to every corner of the state this week. Regarding the state budget, the Lieutenant Governor says, "we are in trouble..." with New York facing a deficit of at least $15-billion as a result of doing what needed to be done.
County Executive P-J Wendel says he would like Governor Andrew Cuomo to include Chautauqua County in it's new, aggressive antibody testing program for COVID-19.
Wendel says it's important because the county is seeing "very low" numbers of confirmed cases. There were still 27 as of Monday afternoon. However... only 636 people had been tested as of last Sunday. Wendel says they have asked about the testing, but so far have not been included. Meanwhile, progress is being reported regarding negotiations on another stimulus package. Wendel says local government like Chautauqua County could use some help from the federal government... but, adds they would appreciate any help that would be effective for them.
The New York State Department of Labor has launched a new, streamlined application for New Yorkers to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance without having to first apply for unemployment insurance. Labor Department officials say this "one-stop-shop" for unemployment benefits will connect New Yorkers with the benefits they deserve faster... and, without having to call the Department of Labor. In conjunction with Monday morning's rollout of the improved application... the labor department has added 400 representatives dedicated to answering unemployment benefit needs seven-days a week. That brings the number of representatives to 31-hundred. Prior to this... federal guidelines had required residents to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance and be rejected before applying for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. With this new application, which aligns with updated federal policy, New Yorkers will be able to simply fill out one form to get the correct benefits.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo agrees with President Trump that COVID-19 virus testing should be handled by the individual states. However... Cuomo says there is one area they need the federal government's help on... and, that's getting the supply chains in place so manufacturers can make the necessary kits. Cuomo says the state has 300 laboratories... but, they need more materials to make the kits.
Cuomos says he has told manufacturers the state would be willing to pay the price for more tests... but, it's not a matter of price. He says they've said some of those supply issues have to do with China, and if anything is not available... the kits can't be sent out.
Jamestown Community College's Vice-President of Student Affairs Kirk Young says making change in a hurry is not usually 'in the culture' of higher education... but, that's exactly what's happened at JCC over the past month. The campus fully shut down on March 19th, putting almost every course activity on-line. Dr. Young says everyone's worked overtime to make it successful, and singled out the efforts of JCC's tech professionals.
Young affirmed the previous announcement that commencement will be on-line in May, but said they hope to add a more traditional ceremony to the schedule at a later date. As for summer classes, they will be held, and the college expects high demand after the disruptions of the spring.
Dr. Young said they hope to offer the summer classes in the traditional fashion, but are ready to put them on-line if need be. (The JCC Vice-President spoke over the weekend on Media One's High School Bowl program.)
A Pomfret man has been arrested for first-degree sexual abuse stemming from alleged incidents in the village of Fredonia. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office says 36 year-old Scott Davis faces additional charges of second, and third-degree criminal sexual act for incidents allegedly committed in the town of Pomfret in 2010, and 2017. Deputies say Davis was taken to the County Jail pending arraignment.