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Mayor Rolison’s Preliminary 2020 Budget Lowers Tax Rates. City To Stay Under The New York Tax Cap.

Mayor Rolison’s Preliminary 2020 Budget Lowers Tax Rates.
City To Stay Under The New York Tax Cap.

City 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.

Mayor 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.”

The last time the City lowered the tax rates was in 2009.

The 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.

The budget makes no change to water, sewer or sanitation rates.

Read the Mayor’s full Budget Message at:

Direct Link to Preliminary Budget:

Poughkeepsie Mayor and School Superintendent Partner to Launch Children’s Cabinet

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Jay Rosser today announced they are partnering to launch the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet to create a shared vision and cradle-to-career agenda for child development in the city.

Children’s cabinets are used by localities around the country to bring together school districts, government agencies, child-serving community organizations and other local stakeholders to improve their ability to collaborate and coordinate youth supports and services. Cabinets address young people’s holistic needs as they grow and develop. By creating common goals, sharing and comparing data, and addressing gaps or duplications in resources, leaders in different systems (healthcare, human services, parks and recreation, higher education and others) are empowered to craft better policies and decisions.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Eric Jay Rosser visit students at the Early Learning Center on Monday

“Any city that is serious about guaranteeing the success of its children needs to recognize its responsibility for what happens, not just at school, but beyond the school day,” said Mayor Rolison. “I couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with Dr. Rosser to build the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet into a resource that will, for years to come, make sure each and every child in our city has access to everything they need to thrive.”

“The establishment of the Children’s Cabinet is essential to helping to organize the work of many community stakeholders, including the Poughkeepsie City School District. Each of us are fully invested in creating opportunity and access for children throughout the City of Poughkeepsie to achieve success,” said Dr. Rosser. “I’m excited to co-chair with Mayor Rolison. As the top government official of the City of Poughkeepsie, he has a strong track record of investing in the City’s youth and is uniquely positioned to co-chair the Cabinet in the work required for our children to be future leaders.”

“On behalf of the Board of Education and as a lifetime resident of the City of Poughkeepsie, I welcome the creation of the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet. Our children possess great potential that must be maximized, and the Children’s Cabinet will bring school, community and government together to work collaboratively to guarantee that children have multiple pathways to success,” said PCSD Board of Education President Dr. Felicia Watson.

The development of the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet will benefit from the resources of The Local Children’s Cabinet Network, a national initiative of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab, The Forum for Youth Investment and the Children’s Funding Project. Poughkeepsie’s cabinet has joined this network that brings together leaders from 30 localities in the U.S. and Canada to provide research, expertise and tools to support creating and operating successful cabinets.

The Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet was an outcome of the first-ever Poughkeepsie Summit at Harvard University, which convened more than 20 local officials and nonprofit leaders to discuss community development opportunities related to the City of Poughkeepsie’s future, with a focus on improving opportunities for Poughkeepsie’s children.

The event was organized by a group of young professionals with deep ties to the City of Poughkeepsie including James Watson, Kylynn Grier, Kelsey Donohue and Robert Watson Jr. The team is bringing together alumni of K-12 and higher education institutions in the City of Poughkeepsie area to incubate innovative social impact projects and enhance the capacity of local leaders and institutions by connecting them to comprehensive resources and prominent national organizations such as Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab, whose director welcomed the mayor and superintendent’s announcement today. 

Mayor Rolison and Superintendent Rosser will be partnering with other government officials, community organizations and local stakeholders to ensure the cabinet reflects the strength and diversity of the individuals and groups committed to the success of Poughkeepsie’s youth.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Appoints Lawrence As City Historian

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that Tom Lawrence, Director of Poughkeepsie Public Library District, has been appointed City of Poughkeepsie Historian.

Lawrence will serve as a resource for the general public and will aid in the preservation of documents, maps, photographs and other materials relating to the city’s history.

“Tom Lawrence’s devotion to the community and his exceptional work with the Library District will serve him well as City Historian,” said Mayor Rolison.

Tom Lawrence – City of Poughkeepsie Historian

Lawrence, a native of Central New York, graduated from the College of St. Rose in Albany with a BA in Social Sciences, from the University of Oklahoma with a Masters in Library Science, and from Long Island University with a Certificate of Advanced Study on public library management.  He has held librarian positions in New York and Connecticut and has been at the Poughkeepsie Public Library District for the last 24 years.

“As City Historian, I want to work with members of the community to not only preserve the record of our past but to increase the awareness and understanding of the Queen City’s rich history as we explore the potential for its future,” he said.

Over the centuries, Poughkeepsie has transformed from a hamlet to a village to city. Poughkeepsie served as state capital following the burning of Kingston by the British in 1777. In 1788, members of the state convention in Poughkeepsie ratified the U.S. Constitution, with New York forging a new union with the original 13 colonies to become the United States of America. Among other significant landmarks, the city is the site of a Franklin D. Roosevelt-inspired Post Office; the Poughkeepsie Journal, the state’s oldest newspaper and the second oldest in the nation; and the Bardavon 1869 Opera House, the oldest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state,  “The city’s history is all around us, and it’s not just in the history books,” Mayor Rolison said. “But the documentation of the city’s history – and the preservation of that history – is critically important. Tom Lawrence has been one of the trusted caretakers of these records and artifacts. We are grateful he has accepted this appointment.”

City of Poughkeepsie Releases Applicant Submissions for Former YMCA site, Appoints Advisory Committee

The City of Poughkeepsie has released the applicant submissions it has received regarding possible future uses of the former YMCA property on Montgomery Street.

 The city will hold a public information session at a later date to receive input about the plans from residents. The city also has appointed an advisory committee that includes members of the public to review the applications and make recommendations to the administration.

35 Montgomery Street (Former YMCA Facility)

Dutchess County Legislator Barbara Jeter Jackson of the City of Poughkeepsie will chair the committee, which also will include Common Council member Sarah Salem of the Second Ward, where the former YMCA is located. Other members of the committee are city residents Tamoya Norwood, Sashawna Isaacs and Arthur T. Rollin; Paul Calogerakis, the city’s economic development director; and John Penney, the city’s community engagement director.

 “I’m looking forward to hearing the committee’s recommendations – and also eager to hear what the public at large has to say about these ideas,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison.

Earlier this year, the city took ownership of the property as part of its anti-blight initiative. It then released a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for the property, with the goal of soliciting ideas for future uses of the property that will yield significant community benefit.

Here is a summary of the submissions:

The 35 Montgomery Community Coalition – which includes Community Matters 2, Inc., DAY ONE Early Childhood Learning Community, Dutchess Community College, Dutchess County, MASS Design Group, Nuvance Health, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie Public Library District, Vassar College, and YMCA of Kingston and Ulster County – is proposing a multi-use facility that would provide services connected to their respective missions in the community.

“Our proposal re-establishes the former YMCA site as a community and recreation resource that can be a safe, structured and horizon expanding space for Poughkeepsie’s youth and families,” the coalition wrote in a submission sent by Chris Kroner, principal of MASS Design Group.

“More than just a building, our proposal and the coalition behind it represent a comprehensive, cross-sector commitment to giving Poughkeepsie’s children the best possible start in life.”

Andrew Gori and Ambre Kelly, co-founders of The They Co., are proposing to establish a Poughkeepsie Museum of Contemporary Art. “Our 9 year history in revitalizing New York City and Los Angeles spaces and boroughs gives us great excitement to do the same in our hometown of Poughkeepsie, while also including a sensitivity to community retention that could serve as a model for future towns.”

Christopher Bledsoe, aquatic consultant at Swimming Past the Boundaries, is proposing The Swimming Past the Boundaries Aquatic Center (SPBAC), a 22,000-square-foot indoor aquatic facility that would “provide an asset to the immediate surrounding community and Dutchess County as a whole.”

 Artist Carolyn Hutchings Edlund is proposing an Art Museum. “The newly available YMCA property would make an outstanding museum location having already the bones of the structure, parking, and surrounding parkland in which to display sculptures, host out-of-doors performing arts events.”

The submission date for ideas was Thursday Sept. 5. 

During this process, the city held two well-attended meetings and then answered dozens of questions the public posed at those meetings. The city also presented to the public a video showing extensive damage to the inside of the building that has been vacant for about a decade.

The prevailing view at the public meetings was that the former YMCA site should be used again for youth activities in some respect. Residents have suggested everything from an indoor sports center arena to a place for employment and job-training programs.

To see the submissions go to:

To see suggested solutions offered during the public meetings go to

City of Poughkeepsie 9/11 Memorial Service

In conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Poughkeepsie, a 9/11 Memorial Service will be held at City Hall at 9:00am on Wednesday, September 11, 2019.  Mayor Rob Rolison will officiate. 

In the event of inclement weather, the Memorial Service will be held inside City Hall. 

Statement By City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison As Classes Are Set To Begin In City School District

“As classes begin in the Poughkeepsie City School District Thursday, I want to wish all the students much success this year, and I am encouraged by the stronger bond that has emerged between the district and the city.

The city school district has the wind at its back, having recently hired Dr. Eric Rosser as its superintendent. We want him and the rest of the school district to know that the city is here to work in partnership.

 Dr. Rosser, School Board President Felicia Watson and I were among those recently attending the ‘Poughkeepsie Summit at Harvard University.’ This summit focused on developing citywide solutions to help children succeed.

 The school district can’t do it alone. The broader community has an obligation to teach our children, to ensure they are safe and in nurturing environments. We have to be in this together, and the city is committed to that effort.”

Statement by Mayor Rob Rolison Regarding Lawsuit for a Cleaner Hudson River

For decades, industrial pollution in the Hudson River has devastated the commercial fishing industry, and efforts to restore the majestic river to a healthier state have proven entirely unsatisfactory.

I commend the State of New York for filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for prematurely issuing a ‘Certificate of Completion’ for the Hudson River PCB Cleanup.

General Electric should, indeed, conduct additional remediation to clean up the river.

Furthermore, I commend Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro’s decision to file an amicus-curiae brief in support of the state’s lawsuit. By doing so, on behalf of all county residents — including those living in the City of Poughkeepsie — the County Executive is appropriately emphasizing the economic and environmental impacts of the Hudson River on the area. Pronouncing GE’s cleanup of PCBs complete at this point is premature and not in the public’s best interest or health.

I also appreciate the steadfast work of environmental groups – including Riverkeeper, Clearwater and City of Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson – in insisting for better remedies for our river.

The City of Poughkeepsie is among those communities relying on the Hudson River for drinking water. Making the river as clean as possible is in everyone’s interest – and should be everyone’s goal.”

City of Poughkeepsie to host Fourth of July Fireworks Display

The City of Poughkeepsie will host its annual Independence Day Fireworks Display on Thursday, July 4th shortly after dusk (approximately 9:20 pm).  The best places to view the show are from Waryas Park (free), The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum (tickets required), or the Walkway over the Hudson (tickets required).

The rain date is Friday, July 5. In the case of rain, please check the city’s website ( and Walkway website ( for any updates.

Parking is free in municipal parking lots beginning at 5 p.m. and in metered spaces after 6 p.m. Handicapped parking will be available at Waryas Park. No Parking zones will be in place along North Water Street and in the lots of Waryas Park. John M. Flowers Circle at Waryas Park will be closed to vehicular traffic.

“We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July,” said City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “There is no better place to celebrate the holiday than on the waterfront in Poughkeepsie. We hope to see you there!”

Mayor Rolison’s Statements Regarding Recent Parades

Following two parades in a 48-hour period and other events in between, City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison thanks the community for coming together and for fostering such positive energy in the city.

Video highlights of 'Champions Parade' in City of Poughkeepsie

On Friday, the City of Poughkeepsie held a “Champions Parade” for the city high school basketball and crew teams for winning state championships. Under pleasant skies, the parade marched down Main Street and ended up at City Hall where ceremonies were held. Afterward, many of the participants headed over to Mansion Square Park where First Friday festivities were taking place. Here are video highlights of that event.

Posted by City of Poughkeepsie on Monday, June 10, 2019
Video highlights of the “Champions Parade”

 “This past weekend was extraordinary,” the mayor said.

Champions Parade

Under pleasant skies on Friday afternoon, people lined both sides of Main Street to watch a parade featuring the Poughkeepsie High School basketball and crew teams, both state champions. The parade continued through downtown and made its way to City Hall where the mayor, School Board President Felicia Watson, coaches from both teams and others greeted the players and presented them with awards. Many of the parade participants and watchers then went over to Mansion Square Park where First Friday festivities – featuring food vendors and music – were underway. The park was jam-packed with people, and the event lasted until nightfall.

Poughkeepsie Pride Weekend

Poughkeepsie Pride organizers painting a crosswalk

On Saturday afternoon, Poughkeepsie Pride Weekend organizers painted the crosswalk at Main and Bridge streets the colors of a rainbow flag, one of many events that culminated with a parade on Sunday afternoon. Approximately 1,000 participated in the city’s first pride parade and festival, an event held in correlation with the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village.

“Sunday’s parade was a joyful sight,” said the mayor. “Having this parade in Poughkeepsie was truly fitting. The city embraces diversity, and we compliment the organizers for working with us and putting on such a great event.  I also want to thank our Police, Fire and Public Works departments for their outstanding work this weekend. Having parades back to back presented some challenges, but, once again, city employees were up to the task. Last weekend will be one that many people will long remember.”

Video Depicts Ties Between City of Poughkeepsie and Oaxaca, Mexico

Last year, the City of Poughkeepsie established a Poughkeepsie-Oaxaca Friendship City Committee, in recognition of the many people from that Mexican city who live or have ties to Poughkeepsie.

The committee, which includes city officials and community members, explores connections between the two cities. 

Two members of the Committee – Uriel Pinelo and Linda Marston-Reid — had separately planned vacations to Oaxaca and recently carried greetings on behalf of the City of Poughkeepsie to the mayor of Oaxaca.

For the trip, artist and filmmaker Jan Muller made a video that focuses on Poughkeepsie’s Oaxacan student body, its Oaxacan community members, and includes comment from City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison talking about the importance of education and acknowledging the vibrant Oaxacan community.

You can watch that video here: