Mayor Rob Rolison said today that the City of Poughkeepsie will end 2016 with a projected surplus in its General Fund of $544,000. “This positive news shows the impact that cost-containment and careful monitoring of expenses throughout the year has, and why we should not transfer savings from any particular expense line to some other expense category mid-year. It’s the fiscally responsible decisions we make during the year that lead to good news at the end of the year.”
City Commissioner of Finance Marc Nelson said “We realize there is a lot of work still ahead of us, but this is an encouraging result for a year which could have gone either way until the very end. City Departments did an extraordinary job of managing to their budgets and adapting throughout the year”.
The favorable 2016 result will effectively reduce the City’s cumulative general fund deficit from $13 Million to $12.5 Million. Additional cost reduction and restructuring initiatives, including the upcoming consolidation of the City’s bus system with the County transit system, are projected to save taxpayers up to another $500,000 annually.
“Fiscal stabilization is a gradual process, but it’s the key to much of what is so important to us all, from public safety to clean streets and thriving businesses. When we manage our City finances well, we are rebuilding our ability to address the daily concerns of our citizens, and we are building a more strategic and responsive city government.”
The City of Poughkeepsie
Annual Sanitation Charges to be Billed Separately – Effective 2017
In 2013 the Common Council adopted a resolution changing the billing system for sanitation so that the charges were billed as a separate line on the homeowner’s annual tax bill. Although Former Mayor Tkazik vetoed the resolution on January 17, 2014, questioning the appropriateness of asking mortgage escrow companies to make sanitation payments on behalf of their customers, the Council overrode his veto and the change took effect in 2015. Typically mortgage documents do not authorize lenders to collect sanitation charges as part of their escrow agreements with property owners.
Since the change became effective, many of the predicted problems became reality. For the first year, caught unprepared, mortgage servicers did make the larger escrow payment. In turn, they increased homeowner’s monthly mortgage payment by adjusting their escrow. Later, increasing numbers of lenders declined to pay the sanitation charge (but may have neglected to tell their customers of that decision). This resulted in unintended delinquencies, and in late charges being assessed to homeowners. Rather than increasing the city’s collection rate on sanitation charges as was intended, the action created confusion amongst banks and property owners. Landlords who had previously passed sanitation bills along to tenants also found the change inconvenient and burdensome.
Because of the negative impact, I asked Mayor Rolison and the new Common Council to revert to the former billing system. That request may be viewed here, and was approved by action of the Council in November, 2016. A copy of the resolution may be viewed here.
Customers will now once again receive separate sanitation bills, which will be mailed in mid-February, 2017. Charges may be paid by mail, in person at City Hall, or online by clicking here.
Commissioner of Finance