Four new members will join the Common Council in January, 2018, as the Council expands from eight members to nine as the result of a Charter change approved by voters in 2016. Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that Council Chair Natasha Cherry will oversee the transition and serve as liaison with the administration during the next two months. “It is important that the new council hit the ground running in January. With so many pressing items to address, I am grateful that Chairwoman Cherry has agreed to lead this transition and I look forward to working with her and the new council”, Mayor Rolison said.
The Mayor’s recommended budget for 2018, which lowers sewer rates and stays under the NYS tax cap, awaits approval of the current council. Chairwoman Cherry said “Preparation is the backbone of success. A successful transition period which embraces our new colleagues will lay the groundwork for collaboration among us”.
The outgoing Council has three more meetings, November 20, December 4th and December 18th, and faces a looming deadline from the Federal Transit Authority to transfer its transit assets to Dutchess County or face a $2 Million Federal grant recapture penalty. The FTA sent the City a strongly-worded letter dated November 3rd, warning the City that it had thirty days to comply with the approved disposition plan. Chairwoman Cherry said “I’ve voted several times to transfer these assets. Obviously the current Council owns this problem, and I hope it acts to resolve it now, rather than leaving the incoming Council to face the consequences – enough is enough – and I certainly will not support putting this burden on our taxpayers”
Mayor Rob Rolison said today that the City of Poughkeepsie ended 2016 with a surplus in its General Fund of $873,904, which is applied to reduce the City’s cumulative fund balance deficit.
“The City ended 2015 with a $1.9 Million Dollar deficit, so clearly our efforts to cut costs and stabilize the budget are having a real impact on our overall financial condition”, said the Mayor.
The City’s general fund deficit has now been reduced to approximately $11.9 Million.
City Finance Commissioner, Marc Nelson, said “with a negative fund balance, we obviously have zero reserves, which makes budgeting and forecasting accuracy absolutely essential. It’s very clear that the decisions made since the beginning of 2016 are behind the stabilization of the City’s finances.”
In December, 2016 Moody’s Investors Service issued a “Credit Positive” statement about the City’s financial condition, saying its 2017 budget signaled a move towards “structural balance”.
Seven months later, in July, 2017, the credit rating agency upgraded their outlook for the City from “negative” to “stable”.
“Our Finance Committee, Councilmen Lee Klein (R-4th Ward) and Mike Young (D-2nd Ward), have provided important leadership on financial matters, and their team approach on problem-solving has made a big difference”, said Mayor Rolison.
“These financial results signal an improving ability to govern more proactively and to address more of the issues that have gone unattended in our community for far too long”, the Mayor said.
On Saturday, October 21, 2017, about 180 students and faculty from the Culinary Institute of America will be descending upon the City of Poughkeepsie to participate in a city-wide park clean–up event. They will be donning their work gloves and work boots to rid the parks of litter and debris before the first snow fall.
All three campuses of the CIA will be participating in Community Outreach Activities the weekend of October 21st and 22nd.
On behalf of Mayor Rolison, the Common Council and the residents of the City, thank you for your efforts in preparing the parks for Winter. It is a tremendous help.
It is with great sadness we learn today that City of Poughkeepsie resident Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Corey George Ingram is among those listed as missing following the recent accident involving the USS John McCain.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Corey’s family, friends, and fellow shipmates.
As the search continues, the Queen City sits with a heavy heart as we await the return of our hero, Corey George Ingram.
We also extend our prayers to the families of the other missing sailors.
TO: Deanne L. Flynn, City Chamberlain FROM: Mayor Robert G. Rolison SUBJECT: Veto Concerning Resolution (R-17-43) – 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-17-43 which was adopted by the Common Council at a Special Meeting held on June 27, 2017. This veto is cast within ten days pursuant to Section 3.02 (f) of the City Charter.
On April 20, 2017 I vetoed a similar resolution which proposed to delay the implementation of this vital initiative. That Resolution sought a six-month extension of the City bus service, ostensibly so that the City could further study ways to make our own system efficient and sustainable. Today’s Resolution, cloaked as another attempt to extend funding for the buses, is really an attempt to derail the orderly transfer of the buses themselves to Dutchess County.
Because the buses were largely paid-for by the Federal government, they must continue to be used and they must be transferred to the County, or else the City will be required to pay back the remaining federal interest after depreciation is considered. I have been informed by our Finance Commissioner that this so-called “Federal recapture” could be more than $1.2 Million Dollars.
This Resolution confirms that some current members of our Common Council just do not care about what things cost, or what damage they do to the City’s hopes of regaining its financial footing. In fact, it’s clear they do not care what this Resolution signals to our stakeholders, grantors, or taxpayers.
I hope that this Veto also sends a strong message – a message that we will not continue down the same tried-and-failed paths of the past, that we recognize the strong support we have received and will need for some time, from the County, the State and – most importantly – from within our own community, and that in this battle between fiscal recklessness and good government we either all win – or we all lose.
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.
On November 6, 1917, women in New York State won the right to vote. The City of Poughkeepsie was the only community in Dutchess County to vote in favor of giving women the right to vote. To celebrate this special anniversary year, communities across the state are remembering and honoring the contributions women have made to their communities.
This exhibit, created by historian Holly Wahlberg, captures some of the stories of Poughkeepsie’s most remarkable women whose accomplishments and indomitable spirit continue to inspire us today.
City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison along with residents from Joseph’s House will launch the “7 Minute Clean Up Challenge” on Saturday, April 8th at 12:00 PM at the intersection of Washington St. and Fallkill Pl.
The 7 Minute Clean Up was the idea of WPDH 101.5 FM Radio personality Robyn Taylor, encouraging City of Poughkeepsie residents and business owners to commit to 7 minutes either weekly or daily to clean up in and around their homes and businesses throughout the City.
The press is invited to attend Saturday’s first 7 Minute Clean Up.
Mayor Rolison will be on WPDH tomorrow morning, April 7th at 8:00 am to discuss the 7 Minute Clean Up Challenge and his ideas to encourage others to participate.
Mayor Rolison announced today that the City of Poughkeepsie, after a thorough review of risk management and the adequacy of insurance protection, has transitioned to coverages offered by the New York Municipal Insurance Reciprocal (NYMIR). The transition back to conventional coverage eliminates the City’s self-insurance retention of $1 Million, replacing it with a $500,000 deductible, increases the maximum total claim from $3 Million to $4 Million, and shifts risk away from the taxpayers of the City: “No plan for fiscal recovery makes sense if we do not simultaneously reduce risk and address operational weaknesses”, said Mayor Rolison. “When it comes to the financial condition of the City, we can all rest just a little easier knowing that we are also protecting the progress we’ve made thus far, while we continue to practice good governance and sound fiscal policies”, said the Mayor.
Under the terms of the transaction, NYMIR will now be responsible for legal defense and adjuster costs for claims made against the City. In addition NYMIR has agreed to commission property appraisals of all city-owned properties valued above $50,000, as the City’s Finance Department begins work later this year on a city-wide inventory of all the city’s assets. NYMIR will also work with the City on training and loss-prevention measures. “The successful completion of this transition addresses another of the chief recommendations of the City’s Strategic Fiscal Improvement Plan, which is the roadmap towards a full financial recovery for our City”, the Mayor said.
NYMIR insures more than 880 municipalities in New York State. These 880 members are also owners of NYMIR, which has a Governing Board of 13 elected and appointed leaders from around the State, and is endorsed by the three municipal organizations in the State, including the New York Conference of Mayors.
Risk management consulting services provided by: Rose & Kiernan, Inc. 60 Merritt Blvd., Fishkill, NY 12524
Mayor Rob Rolison’s 2017 State of the City Address, as delivered at the Cunneen Hackett Arts Center
February 22, 2017
I would argue that one of the most breathtaking scenes anywhere in the world is a sunrise over the City of Poughkeepsie.
The sun peeking over the hillside; the first light of the day glistening off the water; the warmth of the sun on your face as it continues to reveal its full majesty – illuminating a breathtaking view that appears to transcend for miles up and down the mighty Hudson.
And even on those foggy mornings, there is something near magical and inspiring as the sun’s powerful yet elegant rays cut through and lifts the haze off the river to reveal our new day….
One year ago, I stood before you to report that our City was one of transition.
A needed transition from a burdensome past into a feeling of hope and optimism for what the future could hold if we all worked together and helped to move our city in the right direction.
One year ago, I spoke of our plan to make Poughkeepsie: Safer, Cleaner and Stronger…
After one short year, I am pleased to announce to you that today the people of Poughkeepsie are safer; our city is Cleaner; and our future is stronger than ever.