Mayor Rolison’s Preliminary 2020 Budget Lowers Tax Rates.
City To Stay Under The New York Tax Cap.
of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that his 2020 preliminary
budget lowers the city’s homestead tax rate from $13.30 to $13.24 per $1,000 of
assessed value, and also lowers the non-homestead tax rate from $17.99 to
$17.16 per $1,000 of assessed value. The City’s tax levy increases from $24,057,546
to $24,495,525, or 1.82 percent, marking the third consecutive year the City
has stayed under the New York State tax cap. The spending plan for next year
recognizes a sharp drop in the City’s debt service costs of more than $1 million,
after the adoption of a formal debt management plan in 2017 and a bond
refunding transaction that occurred earlier this year.
Rolison said, “The budget I am sending to the Common Council today for their
approval continues our multi-year plan to make our local government more
efficient while increasing our capacity to deliver on our promise to improve
services to our residents and local businesses.”
last time the City lowered the tax rates was in 2009.
City’s budget funds a new position of Deputy Fire Chief to support the
safety-inspection and training functions, restores maintenance and service
agreements with various vendors that had been cut in years past, accounts for
all contractual increases and collective bargaining commitments and increases
funding for youth services. The spending proposal also calls for security
upgrades at municipal buildings, as well as data security and IT upgrades which
will support a new “continuity and disaster recovery plan” to be formalized
next year, and the replacement of an aging tax collection system that was installed
in the early 1990s.
budget makes no change to water, sewer or sanitation rates.
Read the Mayor’s full Budget Message at: http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/finance/2019/10/11/mayor-rolison-releases-2020-preliminary-budget/
Direct Link to Preliminary Budget: http://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/wp-content/files/finance/2020_CityofPoughkeepsiePreliminaryBudget.pdf
City Projects 2017 Surplus
Projected $759,000 Surplus in FY-2017 will further reduce General Fund deficit
Mayor Rob Rolison said today that the City of Poughkeepsie is projecting a year-end general fund surplus of approximately $759,000. The favorable result for 2017 will reduce the city’s cumulative general fund deficit, and further builds on the success achieved in 2016. “This result not only continues our march in the right direction, but it validates our decision to stay under the tax cap in 2018, and to give our restructuring efforts time to take hold”, said Mayor Rolison.
City Commissioner of Finance William Brady said “This is an encouraging finish to a year where we also adopted a strong debt management policy, and began to replace aging equipment, vehicles and infrastructure. We also note improving liquidity and more stable cash flow, which provides flexibility needed to take advantage of cost savings on an opportunity basis without resorting to short-term borrowing”.
Veto Concerning Resolution (R-17-28)
Budget Transfer from Employee Healthcare to Transit Fund Subsidy
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 veto Resolution R-17-28 which was adopted by the Common Council at its regular meeting of April 19, 2017. This veto is cast within ten days pursuant to Section 3.02 (f) of the City Charter.
The debate in our City about the sustainability of our local transit system has gone on long enough. Throughout the years, as this issue has been talked about and then ignored – our general fund deficit has grown to a staggering $13 Million dollars, our bond rating has been lowered three consecutive times, our fiscal stress level has been noted by the State Comptroller, and we have been accepted by the State’s Financial Restructuring Board as one of only a few cities in New York state in need of extraordinary financial assistance.
Despite these simple, critical, and undeniable facts, a slim majority of this Council has voted to pass a resolution which sends the message that they do not care about these matters and would rather buy time to further study the transit situation.
Over more than five years, the stops and starts of this proposal have disrupted the ability of the City to well-manage its transit system. Compliance issues, a declining ridership, and an aging bus-fleet greeted me when I was sworn-in as your Mayor on January 1, 2016. Our City deserves better. Our residents deserve a sustainable transit system. Our taxpayers deserve to be able to depend on their elected leaders to make the difficult, yet fiscally responsible decisions.
While the City wrestled with this issue, mired in endless debate, our police officers went without a contract for years, essential maintenance and infrastructure work was deferred, the roof of City Hall began to leak, and vital positions like the City’s Development Director were eliminated. Parking lots were left unattended and deteriorating, and the number of blighted and vacant buildings in our small City skyrocketed.
The City has been urged to consolidate transit service with the County for a long time. From the Wendell Study of 2013, to the Fiscal Improvement Plan of 2016, experts have pointed to the overlap and redundancies between the City bus system and the County’s transit system and questioned why we wouldn’t take the obvious step of integration and expansion. What do we say to that very reasonable question, as we ask for millions in federal, state and county aid and millions more in grants and zero-interest loans to address everything from fire trucks to critical water and sewer infrastructure and the lengthy list of other needs in our City?
This is a non-partisan issue. Governor Cuomo has made shared governmental services a priority, and where those decisions can be made by local government they should be. County Executive Molinaro has led the charge in our region of the State, as the County’s shared services program has awarded millions in grants designed to maximize efficiencies and cut costs. With three consecutive annual County tax decreases – we agree with him.
This is a taxpayer issue. Each year our city subsidizes our transit system by anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000. That number is expected to rise as costs increase and ridership continues a steady decline. This annual subsidy does not include costs for new busses, a looming issue to evolve if the City were to stubbornly cling to its bus system much longer. We are the only city in the county which is served by two separate transit systems, and our taxpayers are the only taxpayers in the region paying for two transit systems. At some point in the long discussion, common sense and fiscal responsibility must prevail.
To be clear, this Resolution seeks to amend the budget a quarter-of-the-way through the year, without offering any plan for the future sustainability of the system. The majority says nothing about the fact that Moody’s issued a ‘credit positive’ about our budget this year, saying it was “a step towards structural balance”. The majority also dismisses the County’s willingness to help – it’s willingness to expand service on weekends, and its eagerness to adjust new routes to be as convenient for as many riders as possible. This is the same majority that doesn’t say a word about our debt, our bond rating, or the fact that for years the City struggled to pay its vendors and even its own school district.
The avoidance of a challenge is not a solution to that challenge.
Kicking the fiscal can down the road, while City and County busses continue to pass each other on Route 9, while our City taxpayers continue to pay for both systems, is simply irresponsible and therefore I cannot in good conscience permit this Resolution to take effect.
Hon. Robert G. Rolison