Jamestown's worker's compensations costs for the 2013 budget reflect a 23 percent increase over last year's budget.
During Monday's City Council work session, Mayor Sam Teresi provided an update on the budget, which will be presented next week. The city is among the list of municipalities in New York state facing a dramatic increase in worker's compensation costs.
The city, Teresi said, participates in Chautauqua County's worker's compensation package. Increases in the cost of the package are driving up that line in the city's budget.
"We're starting to take a little closer look at that, to try to drill down on it and to try to find out from the county in a little greater detail what is driving this because quite frankly, at the city level, we're perplexed as to what the heck is possibly going on to make these rates go so high," Teresi said.
In addition to worker's compensation, there are several other factors weighing in on the 2013 budget. Teresi cited a decrease in taxable property and no anticipated increases to state aid as issues for the budget. Additionally, the city's fund balance is decreasing.
"It's simply not there to the extent it was in the past to rely upon. If we do rely upon it to the same level that we did in the past, we're going to be out of fund balance within the next two budget cycles," Teresi said.
There are also decreases for investment income impacting the budget. And, Teresi said there has been a 3,700 percent increase in state retirement system obligations since 2000. This year, the state has also added a 14 percent increase to the police and fire pension system, as well as a project 12 percent increase to the employee retirement system.
"We understand and expect that rates are going to adjust and are going to go up, but there has been an explosion in recent times. We are continuing to pursue answers as to what is driving that," Teresi said.
The 2013 budget is not completed yet, as the city is still waiting for additional information from the county and state before it can crunch its final numbers. Teresi emphasized that this is only the beginning of the budget process, and City Council members will be working for the next several weeks to develop a budget that is appropriate for the city and its tax payers.
Teresi will lead a 2013 budget hearing at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9, in the mayor's conference room on the third floor of City Hall.