The Jamestown School Board has decided not to vote on a possible veteran's tax exemption until they begin deliberating the 2014-2015 budget plan. That was the outcome of discussions by board members last night... and, learning more about the state proposal. School Superintendent Tim Mains says the district certainly wants to recognize the sacrifice made by all veterans... but, adds from a financial stand-point... the timing of even a partial exemption right now is not good. He adds that... in the long-run... the district will get LESS state aid under the proposal. The board made the decision after hearing from four local veterans who supported the partial exemption -- which is mainly for combat veterans. Board President Joe DiMaio... who is a veteran himself... is against the exemption as it stands. DiMaio maintains he would rather see an state income tax exemption because then ALL veterans -- even renters -- would be eligible. He urged local veterans to help make that case to the state. DiMaio commended his fellow board members for wanting to at least investigate the idea of giving the exemption because most districts that he's aware of haven't even done that. He, too, doesn't like the shift in taxes because the veteran's exemption would be counted before the STAR Exemptions kick-in.
The school board will get it's first look at a tentative 2014-2015 budget at it's next meeting... and, it's going to be a difficult one. That from Assistant Superintendent for Administration Dale Weatherlow. The board's next meeting is March 11th.
All five divisions of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities did well last year... and, for the first time ever... there were no rate increases. Those were the results of the unaudited Financial Summary presented to the board by BPU Business Manager Mike Anderson. BPU General Manager Dave Leathers says -- generally -- the results were "acceptable." Leathers says the net income in the Electric... Water... Waste Water... and, Solid Waste Divisions exceeded their budget projections. He adds that the District Heating and Cooling Division broke even... thanks to the work of their employees. Leathers says Electric Division's expenses were about 2.6-million dollars over budget. But... he adds that was offset by a 5.1-percent increase in residential sales. Leathers adds that Electric Division Net Income was 1.2-million dollars more than budget. On the Water side... he says net income was 686-thousand dollars. That's well above the budgeted income of 253-thousand. Leathers adds the Waste Water Division and Solid Waste had similar outcomes. The final audited numbers will come out later this year.
The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities reporting two water main breaks yesterday afternoon. BPU Spokeswoman Becky Robbins says the first is on Norton Avenue between Mercury Lane and Hallock Street. The other is on High Street in West Ellicott between Howard Avenue and Highland. Robbins says water in West Ellicott and on the west side of the City may be discolored for 12-24 hours after the repairs are made.
Chautauqua County fire investigators say a blaze that heavily-damaged an Irving home about mid-day Tuesday was caused by a faulty pipe in a wood stove. County dispatchers say Irving fire crews were called to the scene at 12-836 Erie Street just after 11:30 AM. Fire investigators determined that the stove pipe ignited combustables in a crawl space... and, spread to the rest of the house. They add that two residents were able to get out of the building unharmed... and, no one else was hurt. Irving was joined at the scene by Dunkirk... East Dunkirk... Forestville... Hanover Center... Sheridan... Silver Creek and Sunset Bay fire crews. The family of five living there is being helped by the local Red Cross.
On-going computer issues at the state Department of Motor Vehicles has made it hard for local DMV's to process transactions... especially vehicle registration renewals. Deputy County Clerk Tracie Haskin says Clerk Larry Barmore has been in constant contact with the state DMV... and, state legislators from the region about the issue. Haskin says the state-wide system will go down for an hour to a few hours... then come back on line due to an "I-T" issue. Haskin says it's holding up transactions at the county's three local offices... but, she adds that since the problem is with the state system... you're better off renewing locally. She says the best course of action is to drop off your registration form at your local office in advance... and, let them work on it. Haskin says that way... you avoid the on-line problems going on at the state level. She says people are having trouble with getting the paperwork they need back in time from the state. Clerk Larry Barmore says county clerks across the state are experiencing the same problems.
A new Siena College poll shows 73-percent of New York voters support giving municipalities the authority to raise the minimum wage locally. That's something Governor Andrew Cuomo opposes... and, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio advocates for his city. The Siena College poll released Tuesday shows 85 percent support among Democrats... 48-percent among Republicans and 74 percent among independents. Cuomo says letting each city set its own rate could lead to destructive competition.