Mayor Rolison Releases 2019 Preliminary Budget
October 15, 2018
Dear Honorable Members of the Common Council, and to our taxpayers and residents, to our local business owners and our non-profits, to our faith-based organizations and to all the stakeholders in the Great City of Poughkeepsie, GREETINGS:
Pursuant to Article XIV of the Administrative Code, I hereby submit the 2019 Preliminary Budget for the Common Council’s deliberation and action. With a proposed total appropriation of $90,532,226, and a General Fund appropriation of $52,193,673, this budget makes important investments in our City and continues our multi-year plan to stabilize our finances, improve our bond rating, and reduce our general fund deficit – all while staying under the tax cap for the second consecutive year.
As we enter the fourth quarter of 2018 and prepare for what we know will be an exciting time for Poughkeepsie in 2019, I want to thank you for your strong commitment to our community, and for all that each of you have contributed, and continue to contribute, to our City’s work. Some of the fruits of our labor are seen throughout the City every day, as we continue efforts to improve services, lower costs, and to be more responsive to the needs of our residents. The full sense, however, of how we’re doing and where we’re going, can be found within our annual budgets – this being the third I have submitted for our Council’s approval.
The steady elimination of our general fund deficit is, of course, a primary objective. Without a fund balance, that so-called ‘rainy day fund’, it is absolutely essential that we allocate resources in the most efficient manner possible, that we not budget phantom revenues, and that we accurately estimate our future expenses. This budget accomplishes all of that, while at the same time making necessary adjustments where last year’s estimates showed weakness. The best example of that is in our Sanitation Fund, where we are forced to slightly raise rates in 2019.
With twice weekly garbage pick-up, and once-weekly pick-up of recycling and yard debris, Poughkeepsie’s municipal sanitation service is one of the best, if not the best, in the State. Pricing is competitive with private haulers, and it is within our sanitation operation that we see the greatest number of compliments coming from the public. An increase of $50.00 per year for single-family homes, and $100.00 per year for two-family homes, combined with nominal increases in the other categories of service, is unfortunately necessary to keep pace with rising costs. Further, the general fund will subsidize sanitation in 2019 by $225,000 in order to minimize the rate increase caused by these rising costs. On a positive note, Dutchess County has agreed to fund a comprehensive study of our sanitation service, and so it is our hope that the need for general fund assistance will be temporary as we implement the efficiencies that study will reveal.
I am pleased to report that no increase in our water or sewer rates is necessary, and that the City’s new reservoir is scheduled to come on line before the New Year. This multi-million dollar project culminates a years-long plan to bring our water storage capability into the modern world, while also presenting a unique opportunity to re-purpose our existing underground cistern located atop College Hill Park.
Staying Under the Tax Cap, Strengthening Public Safety and Investing in Public Works & Infrastructure
The Homestead tax rate increases by $0.01 per $1000 of Assessed Value, from $13.29 to $13.30, an increase of 0.08%. The non-Homestead tax rate increases by $0.27 per $1000 of Assessed Value, from $17.72 to $17.99, an increase of 1.52%.
The overall tax levy increased from $23,625,583 to $24,057,546, an increase of 1.83 %.
We will spend more on public safety, and we will increase spending in our Department of Public Works for a second year in a row. These are quite clearly the two areas where our limited resources can have the greatest impact on our city – impact on our quality of life directly, but also as a magnet for smart growth and economic development that will drive increased property values, create more jobs, and attract more visitors to our City. There are more demands on local government than ever before, but it is also true that today local government is where we have the greatest opportunity to come together around shared goals and priorities. This budget is offered as rallying-point for that collaboration.
A Promising Year Ahead
Again this year we gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the State of New York’s Financial Restructuring Board, which awarded us $3 Million Dollars in support of various initiatives, from the rebirth of a strategic economic development effort, to the refurbishment of our parking system. Among other things, we will shortly be completing a major rehabilitation of downtown’s Financial Plaza Deck. We are implementing the recommendations of the recently completed parking study, for which we gratefully acknowledge the support of the Dutchess County Transportation Council, and work begins in 2019 on a major pedestrian safety project, funded by a $2.4 Million grant from the State of New York. The just-announced partnership of HealthQuest and Marist College to build a new medical school in the City, along with other exciting projects we must bring to fruition, are certain to make 2019 an extraordinary year for Poughkeepsie.
This budget sends a strong message to all who would invest in our City. We will be ready.
Thank you and God Bless the Great City of Poughkeepsie.
Robert G. Rolison
Poughkeepsie, New York
Download: 2019 Preliminary Budget (.pdf)