Veto Concerning Resolution (R-16-100) – 2017 Annual Budget
December 15, 2016
TO: Deanne L. Flynn, City Chamberlain
FROM: Mayor Robert G. Rolison
SUBJECT: Veto Concerning Resolution (R-16-100) – 2017 Annual Budget
Pursuant to the authority vested in me by Article III, Section 3.02 of the Charter and 3.04 of the Administrative Code of the City of Poughkeepsie, I hereby line-item veto the following sections appearing as “Schedule A” attached to Resolution R-16-100 which was approved by the Common Council on December 8th, 2016. This Resolution was submitted to me by the Chamberlain on December 9, 2016 and my line-item VETOs are therefore cast within the ten (10) day time frame provided for by Section 3.02 (f) of the City Charter.
The 2017 proposed budget which I submitted to the Common Council is a product of input from our Fiscal Advisory Committee, Department Heads, the City’s financial advisors and the public. It was carefully crafted around recommendations of the Office of State Comptroller, and best practices in municipal finance. My budget reduced departmental income by 12.4%, in order to put estimated revenues in-line with our actual experience. As we all know, and as has been widely reported, the City over-estimated revenues significantly in prior years – that practice has contributed to our current general fund deficit.
On January 26, 2015 the Office of State Comptroller criticized the Common Council for including speculative revenue in its amended budget. Today, unfortunately, the Common Council’s budget amendments insert $570,045 more in speculative revenue. In addition, the Council has not adopted all of the legislation necessary to legally collect this projected revenue in advance of adopting these budget amendments. It is not a fiscally sound practice to build revenue into our budget for which there has not yet been any enabling legislation adopted.
01.22.9901.7906- Increase bus fare ($47,750)
The Common Council proposed to reduce the tax levy by less than $50,000 by increasing bus fares across the board by $0.50. The result is that the bus riders, mostly seniors and students, will be subsidizing an already inefficient bus system. The Common Council has taken no action to ensure that the City bus system will become self-sufficient, or at least more efficient. Economic development of the downtown core, which is the commercial City center, is dependent upon a strong efficient public transportation system. In order to accomplish this goal, the City must move toward a unified bus system with our partner, the County. The City is not in a position to accomplish this necessary economic goal, and continuing the status quo is no longer an option. Our federal, state and local partners agree, and have significantly invested in the City’s goal of developing a unified bus system with the County. The taxpayers of this City should not be forced to subsidize an ineffective City transit system, at the same time, while subsidizing a county system. We are currently the only municipality in Dutchess County supporting two systems and continuing this is not an option.
01.11.2555- Increase building fees ($250,000)
At a time when we are actively engaged in a campaign to encourage development and investment in our City, the Common Council budget amendments included $250,000 in revenue from increased building department fees. The increase in fees will deter those looking to invest their time and money into our neighborhoods and commercial corridors. This investment is vital to achieving safer neighborhoods, a revitalized downtown and will benefit the entire City.
01.06.2502- Increase taxi cab rates ($20,045)
Revenue is also scheduled to be raised by nearly tripling the registration fee for a taxi cab. This is at a time where the City is undergoing a complete revamp of our taxi code with our partners, the Town of Poughkeepsie and the County. It would be prudent to wait and roll out all updated licensing regulations at the same time. While an increase to the taxi registration may be warranted, there is no data or analysis to support tripling the fee. This fee increase will be nearly $300 more than Westchester County charges to register a taxi. Cab companies will no doubt look to pass these increased fees onto the customer. Once again, the Common Council budget amendments would be felt most in the pockets of our citizenry.
01.09.2609- Increase parking fines
While we can speculate as to the revenue this increase in fines might yield, it is obviously prudent to have least one year of actual and proven revenue before building this into our budget. The Council significantly increased the fines well above what staff recommended. Again, we simply cannot afford to guess when it comes to our budget process and the revenue that is built into it
Decrease upper management salary by 1.5%
The amended budget reduces salary increases for upper management employees from 3% to 1.5%. This salary increase is provided for in the management benefit agreement, and is tied to the settlement of union contracts so as to not make management raises political. It also ensures that management employees who are not represented by a union maintain comparable salaries which do not create a salary disparity. The City must continue to make these positions non-political and tying salary increases to an independent measure achieves this goal.
01.01.1010.7166- Increase Common Council health care reimbursement ($16,148)
I must also exercise my right to line item veto the Common Councils increase in their health care reimbursement.
My proposed budget decreased the health insurance buy-out to $2,500 for management and all elected officials. This was in-line with the new collective bargaining agreement with the police department; an agreement which the council approved. The Common Council has increased their own buy-out to $4,500. This decision is fiscally irresponsible and sends a message that part time council members feel they are entitled to special benefits above and beyond that which our full time City employees receive.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Common Council who worked alongside the administration during a very difficult budget process. We have been working together since the first of the year on improving this City. I realize we face a great challenge. I realize that while we have had differences of opinion, we share the same vision for this City. Now is the time we must come together to support the tough choices that are necessary to put this City on a path to fiscal stability.
Mayor Rob Rolison