Following ''A Time of Tremendous Achievement and Progress,'' Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi said, ''Truly the best is yet to come.''
These were two terms Teresi used during his State of the City address Monday to sum up 2013 and to predict a brighter future for city residents. In order to work toward a better tomorrow, Teresi addressed several concerns and initiatives that will continue to be worked on in the New Year. One area Teresi addressed is the work being done to research the possible merger of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department and the Jamestown Police Department. The mayor said the committees working on the consolidation will present a plan in the next few months on what should be done. Teresi urged all in the process to keep an ''open mind'' to all proposed plans.
''As was the case with all of the previous examples of city/county merger and collaboration activities, we must first see what this process yields and then let the facts, not our raw emotions and fears, guide the ultimate decision making process,'' he said.
With the talk of more consolidation and shared services being expected from municipalities following Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget address last week, Gregory Rabb, city council president and member At-Large, said after the mayor's address discussions like consolidating police departments is nothing new for Jamestown. He said the city and the county are the first municipalities in the state to have in-depth discussions on consolidating police services.
''This is a model (Jamestown) on how to go beyond artificial boundaries,'' Rabb said about Jamestown and local municipalities sharing services.
Public safety was also another area in Teresi's speech he discussed as an issue city officials will continue to work to improve. Specifically, the mayor discussed the use and distribution of illegal narcotics and arson fires. He said not only do arson fires hurt the tax base of a community, but they needlessly place the lives and safety of first responders, and all citizens, into jeopardy.
''During 2014, our outstanding public safety professionals will be intensifying their efforts to attack and further reduce two scourges, which threaten the viability of every area of our city,'' he said.
After the mayor's speech, Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman, said the issue of drug use and distribution and arson fires is definitely a concern that will need to be a focus for all city officials. He also said improving housing and neighborhood development will also need attention.
''We know our neighborhoods have issues,'' he said.
One of the highlights from 2013 Teresi talked about was the improvement of the city's bond rating. For the second time in three years, the city earned a positive adjustment to its bond rating. For the first time in more than three decades, Jamestown's rating was restored back in the A category with an A-minus rating, which is considered an upper-medium quality.
''In October of this past year, the city was assigned an A-minus rating with a stable outlook by Standard and Poor's,'' Teresi said ''This new classification and positive financial forecast for our city will result in lower future interest costs for city taxpayers and will reduce the price of all major capital projects, including those sponsored by our Board of Public Utilities ... and this will benefit utility customers not only in the city, but throughout the greater Jamestown region.''
Rabb said he agreed with Teresi that the improvement in the bond rating is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
''That is the thing that stuck out (in the speech), and through the year, was the improvement in the bond rating,'' he said.