City lawmakers have approved a local law that allows Jamestown to exceed the state's 2-percent property tax cap... if needed... in the final 2014 budget. However... Mayor Sam Teresi says that cap for the city is only 1.6-percent this year... or 400-thousand dollars. Teresi says that's less than would have been allowed last year... although the city did not come close to exceeding the cap for 2013. While it's a smaller cap... the mayor says -- by no means -- does that mean city leaders aren't going to be working hard through the December 1st deadline... to keep any tax increase UNDER that tight cap. Teresi says one, key area of concern is that non-property tax revenues are either flat... or going down. He hopes the spending plan will reflect the "true operating needs of the city..." but, also reflect the capability of the taxpayers to pay for the services they need. A public hearing on the local law will be held on October 10th. Teresi's budget proposal will be made next Tuesday, October 4th, at 4 PM at city hall.
Chautauqua County lawmakers began reviewing County Executive Greg Edwards' final county budget a little sooner than expected. It began Monday. Legislator John Runkle, who chairs the Audit and Control Committee, says the review process will begin with the Legislature's home committees. Runkle says the Audit and Control committee will begin its work next week. The Cassadaga Republican says he is hopeful that the final budget will hold down the tax rate to near the current year's 9-dollars-15 cents per thousand. Edwards has proposed a 24-cent-per thousand full value tax rate increase under the proposed $230.7 million budget.
Democrats in the U-S Senate last night voted to kill the latest House Republican proposal to keep the government operating past Midnight. However... it would have also delayed implementation of the Affordable Care Act for a year. It had the support of local Congressman Tom Reed... who also introduced a second measure if the House Conference plan was defeated. On the floor of the House last night... Reed called for the Senate to agree to have federal lawmakers... the president... and, their staffers... have to pay their own cost for health care to one of the state exchanges. Reed says lawmakers shouldn't be treated any differently than most Americans. The Senate did approve what was called a "Clean Resolution..." which funds government operations... including the next phase of "Obamacare" through November 15th. The Corning Republican says that's nothing more than continuing the status quo. He says most members of Congress... a large number of Americans... and, even one head of a major labor union are opposed to the Affordable Care Act as it stands. That union leader... the Teamster's Jimmy Hoffa, Junior... has said that "Obamacare" will "kill the 40-hour work week."
A city man is accused of assaulting another person early Monday morning on Jamestown's southside. City police were called to a Hazzard Street location about 12:30 AM on a reported assault-in-progress. Officers say further investigation revealed that 44 year-old Raymond Finch-the-third allegedly punched the victim in the head several times with a closed fist. Police say that caused several cuts to the face... but, the victim did not have to go to the hospital. Officers say they took Finch into custody without incident on one count of third-degree assault. He's being held pending arraignment.
A Dunkirk man has been arrested by state authorities for allegedly filing about 40 false tax returns -- in the names of dead people. State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Thomas Mattox says 42 year-old John Berry of North Ermine Street, had been under investigation for some time. Mattox was taken into custody yesterday on charges of first-degree Offering a False Instrument in the First Degree... and, Attempted Grand Larceny. He was arraigned in Dunkirk City Court... and, released on his own recognizance... pending an October 15th court appearance. Mattox says his department's investigation found a number of the withholding statements used fraudulently by Berry claimed wages from a not-for-profit entity located in Chautauqua County. The investigation revealed that the 40 persons listed on the W-2s were dead. The returns claimed fraudulent refunds of just over 25-thousand dollars between 2008 and 2009. Berry has already pled guilty to taking illegal refunds by filing 122 federal returns using the social security numbers of dead people.
More farms in New York are connected to the Internet. The National Agricultural Statistics Service says 69 percent of New York farms had internet access, up from 66 percent in 2011. That's slightly above the national rate. However... the service reports 39-percent used computers for farm business, down from 42-percent two years ago. About a third of the farms connect to the Internet with cable, with DSL the second most popular way to connect.
The latest Siena College poll shows 45-percent of New York voters oppose hydraulic fracturing for natural gas... and, 37-percent support it. That compares to 42-percent opposed... and 41-percent in favor last month. Spokesman Steve Greenberg says that the poll showed ``the largest anti-hydrofracking sentiment ever in a Siena poll.'' Greenberg says a majority of upstate residents and Democrats oppose the technique. A plurality of Republicans and downstate suburbanites support it. New York has had a moratorium on fracking since 2008.