Two vetoes proposed by Mayor Eddie Sundquist should be overridden quickly by the City Council on Monday — a $6,500 cut to the mayor’s travel and education budget and a $3,000 cut to the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency.
It’s reasonable to ask why Sundquist, in his third year as mayor, needs a bigger travel and education budget than a predecessor who served 20 years in office. Two lines in the budget handle travel and dues for conferences and education, and the two lines total $24,500. Compare that with the $11,056 former Mayor Sam Teresi spent on the same two line items in the city’s 2020 budget.
One reason is the city’s newly renewed membership in the National League of Cities, of which Sundquist was recently named a board member. That membership comes at a cost of $3,508 a year in addition to travel costs to bigger cities around the country for meetings and events. There is a reason the city ended its association with the NLC — city officials decided at the time the national organization didn’t provide enough bang for the city’s buck.
Compare Natonal League of Cities membership costs to the travel and education budget of former Mayor Sam Teresi, who ascended to a leadership position in the New York Conference of Mayors, an organization that comes with a a more expensive membership cost but less costly travel to cities in New York state.
Viewed in that historical light, the council’s cut of the travel and education budget by $6,500 is reasonable considering issues with the executive budget proposed by Sundquist’s created an unexpected $500,000 in cuts that were necessary to bring the budget plan into balance.
Likewise a $3,000 cut to the city’s contract with the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency is far from a fatal blow to the city’s work on housing, especially when considering the cut isn’t a decrease from the city’s contribution to JURA in 2022. Rather, the cut simply decreases the increase in the city’s contribution to JURA. And those who fear the $3,000 cut will harm the council’s work to house the homeless during the cold winter months are similarly unfounded, in our view, given the fact that funding for homeless programs is coming from state and federal sources, not local tax dollars.
Both vetoes, in our opinion, should be overridden by the council.