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Statement by Mayor Rolison on Inauguration Day and Transfer of Power

As the nation prepares for the official transfer of executive power today, I want to wish President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris the best and truly hope they can bring our divided nation closer together. These have been trying to times for the country, particularly since a global pandemic has taken hold here and has been relentless in its grip. I am confident the country will soon push its way through this crisis, as more vaccines become available to the general population.

I also want to extend my best wishes to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York in his new position as Senate Majority Leader. Senator Schumer is acutely aware of the challenges faced in small cities like Poughkeepsie, and he has extensive knowledge of our area. I greatly look forward to working with him and believe he will be in a strong position to help our great city, state and nation as we confront the COVID-19 crisis and ultimately enter into a post-pandemic chapter of our history.

 Finally, I want to thank the citizens of Poughkeepsie for staying strong during these unprecedented times and for refusing to let the city be divided by the coarse national discourse that has not been in the best interests of the country and, in fact, has led to violence and a general sense of dismay that must be swiftly addressed by our national leaders and by our country at large.

 City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison’s Response on Separation of Powers Lawsuit Filed by the Common Council

On December 29, 2020, the Common Council of the City of Poughkeepsie filed a lawsuit to vacate my September 3, 2020 Mayoral message vetoing Resolution R20-68, in which the Common Council unnecessarily authorized Council Chair Salem to execute a professional service agreement with a consultant to assist the Council to review the proposed revisions to the City’s Local waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”). I vetoed Resolution R20-68 pursuant to Section 3.02(f) of the City Charter because I believed the contract was an unnecessary taxpayer expense based on the opinion and advice provided by the City’s Planning Director. The Common Council failed to adopt a resolution to override my veto. As a result, the Common Council has taken legal action.

The Common Council’s action to take this matter to court without even attempting to discuss it with me, and presumably the City’s Corporation Counsel, is deeply flawed, highly regrettable and clearly a disservice to the taxpayers. I have always been willing to discuss this matter directly with the Council, without costly litigation, but the Council has chosen a different, litigious path. Council leadership has no interest in direct dialogue, as evidenced by their decision to remove the longstanding tradition of mayoral comments at Council meetings.

It is my greatest concern that the Common Council’s action will adversely impact the City and my ability to effectively carry out my responsibilities as Mayor. As a result of the Council’s questionable, unilateral decision to file a lawsuit, I am compelled to take counter legal action and am seeking an order to stop the Council’s absurd and costly bid to overturn the long-standing responsibilities of the Mayor, the Common Council and the Administration, as set forth in the City’s charter. I do want to emphasize that I have been and remain willing, at any time, to meet with the Council to discuss and resolve these differences. Unfortunately, the Council’s actions have shown they have no interest in such dialogue, and their decision instead to take this matter directly to court will result in longstanding consequences to the city and the taxpayers who will have to foot the bill.”

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rolison Tests Positive for COVID-19, Is In Quarantine at Home

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in quarantine at home.

The Mayor was not feeling well last week, stayed at home and got tested for COVID-19. A PCR nasal swab test came back from the lab with a positive reading.

 “I’m feeling fine after a few days with aches and pains and a slight fever,” the Mayor said. “The important message here is if you are not feeling well, please stay home and help stop the spread of this virus.”

The mayor intends to work from home the rest of this week and will follow health protocols. He hopes to be able to return to City Hall next week.

The City of Poughkeepsie has developed a Coronavirus Updates & Resource Guide to provide you with the latest information pertaining to the COVID-19 and to serve as a resource guide so people can get educated about the coronavirus, https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/coronavirus.

City of Poughkeepsie Looking for Community-Minded Volunteers to Serve on Land Use Review Boards

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor announced today the City is looking for residents to serve on a number of land use review boards: Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Waterfront Advisory Committee, Historic District and Landmark Preservation Commission, and Shade Tree Committee. Candidates must be a current and full-time resident of the City of Poughkeepsie. All positions are unpaid, volunteer positions that allow residents to have a direct impact on projects and development within the City. If you have been looking for a way to get involved, here’s your chance!

Planning Board

The Planning Board meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. and is responsible for reviewing a variety of development-related applications, including: site plans, subdivisions, special permits, signs, façades, Planning Department referrals for zoning changes, and Common Council referrals for advisory opinions. Encouraged skill sets include planning, architecture, construction, land use law, environmental engineering, business operation, community organizing, and above all, passion for your community and attention to detail. Members of the Board are expected to commit up to 10 hours per month over a term of 3 years, plus an additional 4 hours of training each year. 

Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. and is a quasi-judicial board responsible for making zoning interpretations, recommending zoning changes to the Common Council, approving changes of legal nonconforming uses, and for ruling on area and use variance requests.  Members of the Board are expected to commit approximately 6 hours per month over a term of 3 years, plus an additional 4 hours of training each year.

Waterfront Advisory Committee

The Waterfront Advisory Committee (WAC) was created in 1986 and has served in an advisory capacity to the Mayor, Common Council, Planning Board, and other City officials for all activities and/or developments within the delineated boundaries of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Zone. The Committee is also responsible for assisting with updating and carrying out the City’s Local Waterfront Redevelopment Program. The WAC meets the third Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m.

Historic District & Landmark Preservation Commission

The HDLPC is a group of city residents appointed by the Mayor who are charged with reviewing all plans for the moving, exterior construction, alteration or repair, landscaping or demolition or any change in the exterior appearance of places, sites, structures or buildings designated landmarks or landmark sites and all places, sites, structures or buildings wholly or partly within the boundaries of a historic district. The Commission also considers applications for designation of historic landmarks and/or districts and makes recommendations regarding those applications to the Common Council. The HDLPC meets the second Thursday of every month at 7 p.m.

Shade Tree Commission

The Shade Tree Commission (STC) was formed in 1978 in order to study the problems and needs of the city in connection with its tree planting program and to make recommendations to the Planning Board, City Administrator, and Mayor as to type and kind of trees to be planted in the City. Other functions include the dissemination of news and information regarding the protection, maintenance, removal and planting of trees in the City.

Candidates should submit a resume and letter of interest stating why they would like to serve on the board or committee of their choice to the City Chamberlain by December 18, 2020 [email protected]. Candidates may identify multiple boards that they are interested in serving on.

Mayor Rolison Releases Preliminary 2021 Budget That Lowers Tax Rate, Stays Below Property Tax Cap

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has released his 2021 preliminary budget that lowers the tax rate, stays under the New York State property tax cap, maintains essential city services and avoids layoffs of full-time employees.

The mayor’s $91 million budget plan goes to the Common Council for review and approval.

“These are extraordinary times,” said Mayor Rolison. “The pandemic has dealt us a mighty financial blow, but the city administration has taken a number of steps to mitigate the damage, and we have received a lot of help from our employees. It is our steadfast and resolute commitment that this City not go backward.”

In conjunction with the budget proposal, the administration will be submitting to the Common Council for approval collective bargaining agreements by the Police Benevolent Association and the Civil Service Employees Association that include no salaries raises for 2021. The mayor said the budget provides savings in many other areas but also the expectation of receiving $1 million in federal aid, as municipalities continue to confront the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis.

“City employees have shown they are willing to make sacrifices to keep us operating at our current levels,” said City Administrator Marc Nelson, who also noted that management employees also will not receiving a salary increase in 2021.

Nelson pointed out that unlike most municipalities, the City of Poughkeepsie has no fund balance to cushion the blow from the COVID-19 crisis but also did not want to borrow money to make up the difference.

“This was a difficult budget to put together, but our finance team has proven up to the task,” he added.

The overall budget proposal represents a 1.9 percent increase over the 2020 budget, with the general fund appropriation of roughly $53.5 million increasing 1.28 percent. Property taxes would increase 1.5 percent, but the homestead tax rate would drop from $13.24 to $12.52 per $1,000 of assessed value, a decrease of 5.44 percent, while the non-homestead rate would dip from $17.16 to $16.44 per $1,000 of assessed value, or 4.2 percent.

The mayor’s budget does include a rate increase for sanitation services, but this adjustment also ensures the continuation of twice-weekly garbage pick-up, seasonal yard debris pickup, and once weekly recycling.  Mayor Rolison said other important initiatives – such as funding for youth services programs – will continue under his budget plan.

Mayor Rolison said the city administration will conduct a mid-year analysis in June to consider what other measures might be needed to address the city’s revenues and expenses.

“Our city and our city employees have been through tough times these past months,” the Mayor said. “The city administration has done the hard work to put forth a reasonable and responsible budget proposal during these trying times. The city will weather this crisis and come out stronger as a result.”

The administration will be presenting the budget at a meeting of the Common Council planned for November 9.

Read the Mayor’s full Budget Message at: https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/wp-content/files/finance/2021BudgetMessage.pdf

Direct Link to Preliminary Budget athttps://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/wp-content/files/finance/Budget2021_Prelim_final.pdf

For more information contact:

Community Engagement Office: 845-451-4241John Penney- [email protected]

Mayor Rolison Says Projected 2021 Budget Must Close Big Gap

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that his 2021 proposed budget, to be delivered to the Common Council by October 15, must close a projected $3.1 million gap. City officials cite pressures on all funds, as well as declines in sales tax revenue, and a likely reduction in State Aid to Municipalities, as the chief drivers behind the projected shortfall.

“We cannot with confidence predict the future decisions of our State and Federal partners. Without a fund balance to draw from in times of need, we face difficult choices in the days and weeks ahead. In the absence of direct federal stimulus to American cities and states, we will continue to make what cuts we can to our spending plan, while at the same time asking the Common Council to authorize overriding the New York State tax cap in the event we need to do that,” said Mayor Rolison.

City officials cite the need to begin the override process as precautionary. The New York State tax cap requires real estate tax increases more than approximately 2 percent annually to win the support of a supermajority of the legislative branch. City Administrator Marc Nelson said, “Our goal is to remain under the cap, and we have accomplished that the last three consecutive years. Uncertainty about the likely choices of other levels of government, upon which we greatly rely, make it prudent to bring the matter to the Council as soon as possible.”

The Common Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 21.

City’s Procedural Justice Committee Will Review Governor’s Executive Order on Policing

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison today announced that the city’s Procedural Justice Committee — which includes police officers, other city officials and members of the public – will be reviewing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order pertaining to policing and enhanced training and policies and will make recommendations for the Mayor and Common Council to consider and act upon.

In mid-June, Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 203 — the “New York State Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative” — requiring local police agencies to develop a plan and address policies, procedures, practices and deployment, including but not limited to the use of force.

Continue reading City’s Procedural Justice Committee Will Review Governor’s Executive Order on Policing

Statement by City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rolison on Peaceful Protests in the City

During this week, the City of Poughkeepsie has witnessed several protests relating to the senseless death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I want to convey how proud I am of the community for coming together in peaceful demonstrations to express their frustrations and to push unrelentingly for racial equality. I also want to thank the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department for their professionalism in handling these demonstrations and to our law enforcement partners from the state and Dutchess and Ulster counties that provided us with support.

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison at Tuesday’s “We Can’t Breathe” protest.

 Across this country, we have watched protests that have taken counter-productive, dangerous turns. The events in the City of Poughkeepsie — which have included a candlelight vigil and marches — have shown the country how people can gather to express themselves passionately, to demand justice, and to ensure their voices are heard. And they can do all that without violence and without causing damage to the community at large. I will be forever thankful for those, including the organizers of these events and community leaders, for insisting on a nonviolent approach. The city is committed to doing its part as the country tries to heal and find a way forward. We are committed to keeping the lines of dialogue open and to providing a safe environment for people to continue to voice their views and to work for the betterment of our city.”

Statement from City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison on the Death of George Floyd

I am outraged and sickened by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, who was left begging for his life while being held to the ground by police kneeling on his neck in Minneapolis.

As a retired police officer and as the father of a police officer, I am appalled by the actions and believe justice must be served. Our police officers take an oath to uphold the law, and these gross violations break the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the public – bonds that are essential to all communities. Here in the City of Poughkeepsie, our police officers are committed to strengthening community relationships and endeavor in those efforts every day.

Throughout the country, we are witnessing protests, and I stand with those who tirelessly work for racial equality. In Poughkeepsie, we have shown time and time again we can all work together for the greater good.

These are trying times, but I have so much faith in our community. We will work for and insist on justice, and everyone’s voice will be heard and respected.

Mayor Rolison Postpones State of the City Address

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has decided to postpone tonight’s State of the City address at the Changepoint Theatre, believing now is not the right time to bring together such a large group of people for a public gathering.

“We think it’s smart to use an abundance of caution in this instance,” Mayor Rolison said. The Mayor said he and city officials will be discussing a future date for the State of the City address and will be keeping the public informed as decisions are made.