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City Protecting Bus Service Through Collaboration with Dutchess County

Mayor Rob Rolison said today that the City of Poughkeepsie saw a steady decline in ridership of City buses again for 2016.  Ridership and its associated revenues have been declining for several years, including a 121,124 decrease in ridership from 2012 to 2016 and this trend is continuing.  Between 2015 and 2016 alone, ridership decreased by approximately 38,801 on the City’s transit system.

City’s taxpayers supplement the bus service by well over a quarter of a million annually.  Given our fiscal situation, the City should not continue to subsidize the City’s transit system when a better option is available.  The City’s 2017 budget continues operating subsidies for the first six months of this year at which time the City’s system will be absorbed by Dutchess County transit operations to create one unified system.

Dutchess County provides bus service within the City limits on many of the same routes.  The County is better equipped to provide service within the City and to connect residents to other parts of the County.  At a recent public meeting, residents asked for expanded service and better routes.

At the February 6th council meeting, a presentation and information session will take place on transfer of service.  Combining these two systems is the clear choice.  City residents will be able to travel more efficiently throughout their own City earlier in the mornings and later at night.

“It is unfair to City taxpayers to continue to subsidize two separate transit systems when those buses pass each other on the same streets day after day.  This new integrated system will provide better transportation options for our citizens.  We need these improved efficiencies to ensure the growth and revitalization of the Queen City,” said Mayor Rob Rolison.

Veto Concerning Resolution (R-16-100) – 2017 Annual Budget

VETO MESSAGE

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.

It is for this same reason that I must veto the following budget amendments:

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.

Respectfully submitted,

Mayor Rob Rolison

 

Mayor Rolison to Provide Update on City Budget Deficit

The City recently received its audit report for the 2015 budget year which has significantly increased the City’s $11 million fund-balance deficit.

The Mayor will also provide an update on the current trends for the 2016 budget, and updated information on the 2017 budget process.

When: Monday, November 21st 2016 at 11:00 AM

Where: City of Poughkeepsie Council Chambers – 3rd floor of City Hall
62 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie NY 12601

Residential Burglaries Reported on South Side

A Message from Mayor Rob Rolison:

“There have been recent reports of residential burglaries in and around residences in the south side of the City of Poughkeepsie, specifically during the daytime hours. We are asking residents to keep a watchful eye in your neighborhoods and to be vigilant in keeping your doors and windows secure especially when you are not home. Please report any suspicious activity immediately to the Police Department.”

 

BUZZ Alert: Help us collect school supplies!

Mayor Rolison invites YOU to join in making sure our local students return in the fall with the supplies they need:

Backpacks, Supplies & More has challenged us to collect 850 black & white composition notebooks. The notebooks will be distributed to students through the program “Backpacks, Supplies & More” which provides free school supplies to local children. Supplies will be accepted through Tuesday, July 12th and can be dropped off to Kelsey Bradley on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

You can learn more about these efforts and the Backpacks, Supplies & More program here!

We encourage everyone in the community to participate in this important service opportunity! Thank you

SchoolSuppliesChallange

Commissioner of Finance Position Available

The City of Poughkeepsie is seeking a seasoned finance professional for the post of Commissioner of Finance.  The Commissioner of Finance is responsible for the administration of the financial affairs of the city, as well as the operation of the accounting, personnel and data processing units.  The city has a 2016 general fund budget of $48 million with a combined budget of $83 million, and 338 FTE employees.

The ideal candidate should possess a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, business or public administration or related field with at least 5 years of accounting experience two of which must have been in a supervisory or administrative capacity; or a Master’s degree with three years of experience one of which must have been in a supervisory or administrative capacity.  The Finance Commissioner is required to live within the City limits within a reasonable time after selection.  Salary is negotiable, depending on experience and qualification.

Additional information about this opportunity is available at the search consultant’s website – www.mercergroupinc.com or by contacting one of the following search consultants directly: Jim Miller, 612-581-9972 or jf_miller@outlook.com; or Jim Mercer,  770-551-0403 or jmercer@mercergroupinc.com.

This position is open until filled. Please send cover letters and resumes, preferably via email, to one of the search consultants above. First review of resumes will be conducted on May 1, 2016. Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). Women and minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply.

Mayor Rolison to Join Nationwide Effort to Recognize Impact of National Service

On April 5th, Mayor Rob Rolison will join city leaders across the country in a day of recognition to highlight the impact of AmeriCorps on the City of Poughkeepsie.

The Mayor will participate in the Mayor Day of Recognition for National Service by holding a press conference where he will thank those involved in AmeriCorps throughout the City of Poughkeepsie.

WHAT: Mayor to Recognize the Service of AmeriCorp Members

WHERE: City of Poughkeepsie Common Council Chambers

                   62 Civic Center Plaza, 3rd Floor

WHEN: 10:00 am

Swearing-in of Thomas O’Neill as City Judge

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announces the swearing-in of Thomas O’Neill as City of Poughkeepsie Judge. The ceremony will be held on Friday, April 1, at 12:45 pm, in the City of Poughkeepsie Court.

Mr. O’Neill has nearly four decades of legal experience. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he spent three years as a member of the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department.

Mayor Rolison’s State of the City Address

Watch: State of the City Address (Poughkeepsie Journal)

In 1855 a single engineer proposed the construction of a railroad bridge to be built across the Hudson River.  The idea, met with mockery and ridicule, was at first set aside; then met with a variety of delays; and then several financial challenges.

But after much resolve, on December 29th, 1888, the first train crossed the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge – at that time, the only Hudson River Crossing between Albany and New York City.

Since then, our bridge has undergone much transformation.  From a busy thoroughfare moving goods and materials throughout the Industrial Northeast, a   gateway connecting passengers to the Midwestern and western states, and acting as a vital link for war freight during World War II.

Ultimately, shrinking industry and shifts in population and the addition of new bridges, roads and faster modes of travel left our bridge in a state of decline.  And then in 1974 a fire, followed by years of neglect and decay was seen as a sure sign of its final days.

However, vision and foresight has reinvented our bridge into a Historic Park enjoyed by the masses, inviting people into our City and serving as a beacon of our historic industrial past and visionary and idealistic future.

The transition of that bridge is symbolic of the state of our city.  Today, the state of our Queen City is one of transition, but is on the move.

  Continue reading Mayor Rolison’s State of the City Address