COVID-19 Relief Funds Spending Johnstown Candidates Forum Focal Point | News

COVID-19 Relief Funds Spending Johnstown Candidates Forum Focal Point |  News

Also on the ballot, voters will decide on a referendum that, if successful, would allow City Council to change the Home Rule Charter to do away with the residency requirement for city managers. “(The money) is going to be allocated in a number of different ways to nonprofits, to businesses, to individuals, to the city,” Janakovic said. “A portion of it will go toward Main Street, other projects, etc. But by doing projects like that, if we put $10 million in one project, we’re able to leverage it and get another $5 million. So we’re doing everything we can to make $30 million (into) $40 million, $45 million, increase those projects, but also make sure we’re taking care of our constituents, meaning the neighbors, the neighborhoods, those sort of things that we have going on out there.” Janakovic said, in his opinion, the rule has negatively affected council’s ability to attract and retain qualified city managers, with nine people having held the position on a full-time or acting basis since 2014.

“The city should next provide rental and mortgage assistance to its residents,” DeBartola said. “The (American Rescue Plan) guidelines specifically allow for this. The city already is known as one of the poorest in the state. Providing a one-time payment for all city residents would do wonders for the bottom line.” DeBartola said it would be “fiscally responsible” for the city to cover any of its unbudgeted expenses incurred due to the pandemic. He wants to see assistance given to small businesses, food banks and shelters.

Janakovic said, if reelected, he would want to create a plan that would help the city use the federal dollars to acquire other funding for projects, including repair and beautification work that is being considered for the Main Street corridor. Money allocated through the rescue plan can be used in a wide variety of ways, provided the expenditure is shown to provide COVID-19 pandemic relief.

“It’s been a revolving door for all these years. We really have to go back to a strong form of mayor. That’s going to take time and a government study. and I wish I could give you an answer. If you look at our history in the last 10 years, the city managers we’ve had have been scapegoats for the current regime.” All seven City Council candidates were invited to the forum. “The city manager, I feel, should live in the city,” DeBartola said. “I’m against the referendum the council’s pushing.

DeBartola pointed out that Janakovic voted in favor of putting the question on the ballot. “Just so we’re clear, I am in favor of the city manager living in the city,” Janakovic said. “I’m just showing you for the last seven years what has happened because people have not wanted to live in the city. I am pro that the city manager should live in the city. Finding that right person has been the difficult task.”

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