STATEMENT FROM COUNCILWOMAN SARAH COMPO PIERCE
It cannot be disputed that Hospice of Jefferson County provides an invaluable service to the people of the North Country. On a personal level, I have seen firsthand the compassionate care Hospice staff offers to those at the end of their lives, as well as the comfort they provide to families.
Tonight, my opponent will put forth a resolution to allocate nearly a quarter million dollars to Hospice of Jefferson County. Supporting Hospice is a laudable intention, however, when deciding to allocate taxpayer money to one not-for-profit, a number of questions need to be asked, including:
How do the needs of Hospice compare to the needs of the dozens of other not-for-profit organizations in the community?
How will previous requests received from other not-for-profits be handled?
How will requests received in the future from other not-for-profits be handled?
Additionally, my opponent is proposing to use “American Rescue Plan Act” funds in order to allocate funds for Hospice. Recently, City Council was informed that we overspent our ARPA funds—or, in simpler terms, the cost of projects planned with ARPA funds exceeded the money we had available. As such, we were forced to cut projects. Should the allocation of funds for Hospice occur, what other ARPA project will be cut?
Lastly, as most are aware, the City of Watertown’s drinking water does not meet federal standards. As such, we are moving forward with a $50 million project to correct issues and provide clean drinking to residents and our neighbors at Fort Drum. Just last week, we were informed the City will not be awarded a $20 million grant we applied for to help cover the project cost. Providing clean drinking water needs to be a top priority for City Council, and funding this project needs to take precedence over all other expenditures.
The good Hospice of Jefferson County does for the people of our community cannot be overstated. However, there are dozens of other not-for-profits in the City that do a great deal of good and could use additional support as well. Furthermore, there are essential city projects that could use additional support—namely, our water treatment project.
We should never lose sight of the valuable services our not-for-profits provide. However, it is imperative, as elected officials, that we maintain a steadfast, fiscally responsible, fair approach to governing that prioritizes the needs of City residents.