A major storm is projected to move up the East Coast today... bring with it rain... freezing rain... and, snow to the northeast. Most of Western New York... including Chautauqua County... will be on the "cold side" of the system... meaning we'll see between 8 and 14 inches of snow. That from Forecaster Tony Insuinni (EnSweeney) from the National Weather Service. EnSweeney says we are under a Winter Storm Warning from 1 this afternoon until 1 AM Thursday. He adds the storm is expected to track up the East Coast later today. EnSweeney says this is the storm system that's caused major travel headaches in parts of the Southwest and Southern Plains over the past few days. He says we're looking at about 1 to 2 inches of snow during the day today before we get 4 to 7 inches tonight. The storm has already caused travel problems for Thanksgiving week travelers... with hundreds of airline flights cancelled nationwide. Ensweeney says most of the Northeast will experience that just ahead of Thanksgiving Day.
City lawmakers have approved a 33.5-million dollar, 2014 budget that raises taxes by just under 2-percent. The Jamestown City Council approved the spending plan in a unanimous, 8-to-0 vote. Lawmakers were able to cut another 91-thousand dollars from Mayor Sam Teresi's proposal... cutting the tax rate increase by 14-cents per thousand full value to 41-cents. Council President Greg Rabb says the process "went well." But... he adds that Teresi proposed a very tight budget that left lawmakers with little left to add... or cut. Finance Committee Chairman Tony Dolce says the cuts come from six areas. The biggest item being 32-thousand dollars in savings on borrowing due to the city's improved bond rating. Another 20-thousand dollars each was cut from the contingency account... and, Judgements and Claims. Teresi says he and his team pride themselves on proposing a "tight" budget... and, he wasn't surprised lawmakers weren't able to find much else to cut. Dolce says City Comptroller Joe Bellitto indicated the budget will increase taxes on the average home assessed at 70-thousand dollar home by 28-dollars.
There's still one item of business left for the city's 2014 budget... and, it's not an insignificant amount of money. The spending plan approved by lawmakers includes a 475-thousand dollar dividend payment from the Board of Public Utilities Electric and Water Divisions. Last year... for the first time in many years... the city used the provision allowing for a dividend payment off BPU profits. However... the BPU has to approve the payment... and, that won't be taken up until next week's special board meeting. Teresi believes it will be approved because city taxpayers assume 100-percent of the risk in supporting the utility. The city last year accepted a payment of 300-thousand dollars from the Electric Division towards the budget... and, 120-thousand from Water. This year's proposed payment is 400-thousand from the Electric Division... and, 75-thousand from Water.
The natural gas and oil boom in parts of the U-S and Canada is having a big impact on gasoline prices as we head into the Holiday Season. Chautauqua County's representative in Congress says there could be an even larger impact in months and years to come if Hydraulic Fracturing... or "Fracking..." is allowed in more places. Corning Republican Tom Reed says "Fracking" has not only opened up natural gas pockets deep underground... but, oil as well. Reed adds that increased oil and gas production would also lead to price stability. Reed quickly adds he recognizes that "fracking" needs to be done "safely and responsibly..." however... he says it's produced a boom in North Dakota... and, parts of Canada. He adds it's part of his commitment to an "All of the Above" energy policy. Reed says that should include alternate energy resources -- such as wind and solar. He says, the "good news" is that oil and gasoline prices are coming down.
A New York state legislator says it's time to crack down on the violent ``knockout game'' in which youths ``sucker punch'' innocent bystanders for kicks. Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco of Schenectady tells The A--P that his bill would make the violent game a gang assault with a sentence of up to 25 years. Youths would be charged as adults. Tedisco says his measure is intended to be a deterrent to stop the game and avoid more serious injuries by what he calls ``twisted and cowardly thugs.'' Participants try to punch a stranger so hard they are rendered unconscious, often while other youths record the attack for online sites. Tedisco's bill will also include prison time for those convicted of attending to watch or record the assaults.
U-S Senator Kirsten Gillibrand served lunch at a community center... and, put together gift baskets in western New York yesterday as the holidays approach. Gillibrand was a volunteer at midday Monday at Eastern Orleans Community Center in Holley. The center near Rochester distributes hundreds of holiday gift baskets to needy families. The senator later traveled to Wellsville... where she volunteered at a Head Start facility.