Despite a short agenda on Monday, the city council held lengthy discussions on three resolutions, presenting multiple questions and concerns to the city administration regarding proposals that would likely affect the city’s annual budget.
The city council’s primary focus during Monday’s meeting was to discuss a resolution that would lift the hiring freeze to allow the Jamestown Fire Department to hire eight additional firefighters to bring the fire department to full staffing levels under the staffing grant for adequate fire and emergency response.
While the Personnel for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant will provide the city with $816,201 in funding over a three-year period, based on an estimate provided to City Council by former Comptroller Joe Pellito, the total cost of hiring eight firefighters, purchase Turnout equipment and benefits coverage for each of the additional firefighters will be $2,119,678.
City Council members stressed the importance of considering the financial implications of hiring additional firefighters and stressed the responsibility of elected officials to consider the long-term impact of the decision, rather than just the immediate benefits.
If the city council agrees to hire eight more firefighters and the city does not receive another whistle grant after the initial three-year period, the city will face an estimated total cost of $2,428,453, which several city council members have said will not be the case. The city may include it in its annual budget. As a result, City Councilman Jeff Russell, R-At Large, said the city will likely have to lay off newly hired firefighters after the three-year period of SAFER grant funding.
Finance Committee Chair Kim Ecklund, a Republican, expressed the House’s financial concerns about the decision and addressed the issue. rhetoric In the community that was recently directed to the city council.
“There is a lot of rhetoric in society and I understand it,” She said. “It’s a hot topic. This council cares deeply about this fire department, despite what is being said there, and especially “council member Eklund refused to take it out of funding”. Finance’s job is to get all the numbers in before everything is submitted, no matter what the vote is, whether it’s firefighters, or spending money on a program. It doesn’t matter what it is, that’s what the Finance Committee is for and I’d like to make that clear and brief. The discourse is that everything is free. “Why don’t we do it for free?” This is just a prime example of it not being free.”
At the conclusion of the council discussion regarding the financial implications of the Safer grant and the hiring of eight additional firefighters, City Council President Anthony Dolce, R. Ward II encouraged city council members to ask Pellito, Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Kuhn and the city administration any additional questions before next week’s voting session.
During the business session meeting Monday, the city council also discussed a resolution that would lift the hiring freeze in order to fill the ombudsman position. Elliot Raimondo, a corporate advisor, and Mayor Eddie Sundquist explained that the Ombudsman position would fill a significant city need for human resources. This position will replace the previous Associate Attorney position.
Finally, the City Council debated a resolution that would authorize Sundquist to execute an agreement with Springbrook Holding Company, LLC. The resolution would also allocate $106,286.50 in Transparency and American Rescue Plan funds to purchase and maintain a new financing and payroll program. While the new program would include an increased annual cost to the city, city officials claimed that the program would save city finance staff a significant amount of time and that the investment would be very beneficial to the city.