Several “buckets” of funding will be the focus on how the city of Jamestown will spend more than $28 million.
On Monday, Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist presented the city of Jamestown’s 2021 American Rescue Plan Act Recovery Funds Master Plan to the Jamestown City Council during its work session meeting. Sundquist said the city will receive $28,079,145 in stimulus funding over a two-year period, with the first payment of more than $14 million being allocated in May.
Sundquist said the city has until 2024 to commit the money toward projects, with use of all funding needing to be completed by 2026 or it gets returned to Uncle Sam. There are five categories that will be the basis for how the stimulus funding can be spent: economic development; lost revenue; housing and mental health funds; water, sewer and broadband projects; and transparency and tracking of recovery funds.
As the plan stands today, $10 million will go toward economic development and lost revenue; $5 million will go toward water, sewer and broadband projects; $2 million toward housing and mental health funds; and $900,000 toward transparency and tracking of recovery funds.
The federal government’s classification for lost revenue allows the city to recalculate revenue loss at the end of each year throughout the program, Sundquist said.
He said conservative estimates has the city being able to use $2.2 million for 2020; $2.6 million for 2021; $2.7 million for 2022; and $2.8 million for 2023.
Sundquist said the benefit of the lost revenue category is that city officials can use this funding toward projects or general services.
“Every year, at the end of the year, we can immediately take lost revenue and apply it to general services, whether that’s to roads, construction projects, to parks,” he said. “Any lost revenue category can be immediately be applied. So tomorrow, the council can make a budget adjustment, take approximately $1 to $2 million we’ve already accrued for 2020 and apply it to projects tomorrow.”
Sample project ideas that lost revenue funding could go toward is the creation of a splash pad, which could also be an outdoor skating rink in the winter; a BMX pump track; a dog park at Bergman Park; a frisbee golf course; and walking and bike trails. Funding could also go toward the redesign of West Third Street following the cutting down of the “Cathedral Oak Trees” last year. Also, the funding could go toward much-needed fire station renovations.
Sundquist said economic development category funding will be administered by the Jamestown Local Development Corp. He said funding could go toward projects like the Chadakoin River basin project, which could lead to the installation of docks in the water near Comedy Center Park, the National Comedy Center and the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. He added city officials are working with the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency and the Gebbie Foundation on the expansion of the river basin behind the comedy center.
Sundquist said money could also go toward the creation of a new fund that would be similar to the Funding for Downtown Programming, which assist local attractions with bringing larger events to the city.
For the housing and mental health category, Sundquist said $600,000 will go toward working with local mental health agencies to have people on call during police and emergency service calls. These positions would work directly in and with the police department to coordinate a response when needed.
The rest of the $1.4 million in funding will go toward the city making direct investment in housing rehabilitation programs by working with local housing organizations.
Sundquist said city officials will wait to use the stimulus funding for the water, sewer and broadband category because national representatives have informed city officials that a large infrastructure bill could be passed by the U.S. Congress in the near future. The mayor said it would be best to see what funding will be coming to the city or will be available for water, sewer and broadband projects from the infrastructure bill passed by federal lawmakers before spending any of the stimulus funding.
As for the $900,000 for transparency and tracking, Sundquist said this funding will go toward hiring two new employees – a project manager and a communications coordinator. He said the positions will not be permanent and would no longer be funded once the stimulus money has been allocated.
Sundquist said the city is working with the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to hold four public listening sessions across the city to gather community input on the plan. The Master Plan is available for the public to view on the city’s website at jamestownny.gov.