The Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier are against the proposed dividend payment from Jamestown Board of Public Utilities revenues to the 2014 Jamestown city budget.
On Tuesday, Todd Tranum, county Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer and MAST executive director, spoke to the BPU board during its regular meeting. Tranum said he is concerned about the cash being drained from BPU revenues going toward the city's budget instead of being put back into utilities. He said it is a 12 percent increase in the dividend payment compared to last year's payment.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi has proposed using $475,000 from the BPU's electric and water revenues in next year's city budget. Teresi has proposed $400,000 from the electric and $75,000 from the water to be paid to the city as a profit dividend. The mayor said in his budget message - which he delivered earlier this month - that the BPU is projected to make $4,194,000 in revenues, which is $174,000 more than what was budgeted for the fiscal year 2013.
Last year, the Jamestown City Council used $420,000 from BPU revenues toward the spending plan. In the 2013 budget, $300,000 was used from electric and $120,000 was used from water revenues. Teresi has said last year's BPU dividend payment was the first in 50 years.
''What is being done here is money is being taken from a true asset, the BPU,'' Tranum said. ''Making the BPU weaker and, in turn, degrading one of the greatest competitive advantages we have in Jamestown and the region. ''
Tranum said he has five questions he would like answered about the BPU dividend payment toward the city's general fund: "Is there a policy regarding dividend payments?"; "What is the justification for a 12 percent increase in dividend payments?"; "Has the legality of the dividend payment been reviewed by the Public Service Commission?"; "Why doesn't the city school system receive a dividend payment from the BPU?"; and ''Why are local businesses and property owners not receiving dividend checks?"
John Zabrodsky, BPU board chairman, said Tranum's questions will be answered in written form at a future date. The BPU board has not voted yet on a dividend payment toward the 2014 city budget. The BPU board approved the dividend payment last year toward the city's general fund 6 to 3 last November.