Johnstown Independent

Vision for the future

Village leaders focus on jobs, development, cost efficiency


As Johnstown Village Council and planners work to lay out a vision for the future, job growth, economic development and the budget remain top priorities.

During a special council meeting July 22, members continued efforts to develop a Guiding Principles document for the village, with the intent to "improve the quality of life for our community through fiscally sound policies, efficient administration, progressive and ethical leadership and effective communication."

The guiding principles include fostering a safe, attractive, inclusive and environmentally responsible community.

"A village vision like this can really help us understand where we want to be and where our deficiencies or obstacles might be," Mayor Sean Staneart said. "These principles give this council and future councils a guide, rather than a haphazard approach. If you don't know where you're going, how are you going to get there?"

Affordable housing; neighborhood development; leisure and cultural services, such as bikeways and parks; and mobility were cited in the document.

"This really will help serve the village when we propose legislation and provide a blueprint for where we want to be as a community," Village Manager Jim Lenner said. "It's in draft form and should be adopted in the near future."

With economic development at the top of the list, the village has a lot of positive factors to attract companies, including low income tax rates and highly rated schools, Lenner said.

The Johnstown Industrial Park, on the east side of the village and established in 1999, remains full with eight businesses.

Tax revenues also are showing signs of improvement. The village income-tax rate is 1 percent, with a half-percent credit to residents who work in and pay income taxes to another municipality.

"We anticipated to collect $1.5 million in tax dollars this year, and I believe we've already collected around 73 percent of that, so we're ahead of our estimates," Lenner said. "But we're not going to increase the budget proportionately."

This year's general fund was budgeted at $2.2 million.

Johnstown is among the local governments and schools that will receive roughly $13.68 billion in the current two-year state budget. More than 85 percent of the state's operating budget for the next two years is allocated to local schools, governments and public colleges.

State budget data indicate the village should see a slight increase in the Local Government Fund, which accounts for $363.3 million, or 2.7 percent, of total state funding to local entities. The Local Government Fund was created in 1935 and allows local governments to spend the money as they choose.

"We're trying to maximize our resources and get the best value out of them," Staneart said.