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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.

Mayor Rob Rolison Applauds Students, District as School Year Begins

As co-chair of the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet, I want to wish all the students the best and also to offer my support for Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser as he and his team move forward with their reopening plan for the start of the 2020-21 academic year.

In a time of COVID-19, the school district has faced considerable challenges. But, with the help of the community, the district was able to get a distance-learning model into place at the end of the last school year as COVID-19 struck this area and began to spread.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered guidelines for how schools can open, and Dr. Rosser has carefully weighed his options and has decided to continue under the “remote-learning” model when school resumes on Sept. 10.

Dr. Rosser has always put the best interest of the community in mind, including students, teachers, staff and families. 

Last year, Dr. Rosser and I announced we would create a Children’s Cabinet designed to shepherd a shared vision and cradle-to-career path for child development in the city. This year, we have named members of the Cabinet’s Executive Committee and have started to meet to improve communication among many important stakeholders and the community at large.

I am grateful to be partnering with him on this endeavor. We all look forward to do the day when in-person instructions can begin for students and when more in-person meetings can occur for the Cabinet. Like so many others in the community, we are persevering through the COVID-19 crisis and anticipate better days. Please join me in lending your support for the school district as it works through the challenges of distance learning and devises innovative ways to ensure students are getting the education they deserve.

To find out more about the Children’s Cabinet, visit: https://cityofpoughkeepsie.com/mayor/2020/02/26/school-superintendent-mayor-name-members-of-poughkeepsie-childrens-cabinet/

Statement by City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison Regarding the Importance of 2020 Census

The U.S. Census count continues until the end of this month — and it is imperative all City of Poughkeepsie households participate before the count is closed. Over the next decade, the city could lose out millions of dollars if we are undercounted. Here’s why: The distribution of federal funds is largely determined by population. Those funds go to more than 130 programs, from housing and highways, as well as to nutrition to education needs. Census data is also used to determine the number of seats in Congress each state receives, and congressional and legislative lines will be redrawn based on these numbers.

Every 10 years, as required by the Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau undertakes this count. I strenuously disagree with the decision by the U.S. Census to end the count on Sept. 30. The COVID-19 crisis has made the count more difficult, especially for the census workers going door to door to obtain responses that did not come from households through an online form or by phone or mail. The good news is people can fill out the form online at https://my2020census.gov/or call (844) 330-2020 for assistance in English or (844) 468-2020 for help in Spanish.

Please keep in mind that sections of the City of Poughkeepsie are considered “hard to count” — that is, people in those areas are less likely to fill out the form. We need to work together and spread the word to neighbors and friends about the importance of this count.

The information collected by the Census Bureau is confidential and protected under law. All Census Bureau employees take an oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to five years, or both. Please help spread the word — our community cannot afford to be shortchanged. The City has a webpage, www.cityofpoughkeepsie.com/census2020 where you can learn more about the 2020 census.

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.

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City of Poughkeepsie Makes Series of Reductions to Close Projected Budget Gap

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison announced further financial reductions today to close the gap on a projected multimillion-dollar budget shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mayor said approximately $500,000 is being removed from the 2020 budgets of the Police and Fire Departments in this round, largely reflected in a freeze on filling vacant positions.

Revenue streams such as permits and parking fees are being negatively impacted by the pandemic. Property and sales taxes remain particularly vulnerable. Approximately $4.7 million in state aid also is at risk pending state decisions in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Earlier this year, as a result of these financial impacts, Mayor Rolison ordered a hiring freeze for all but public safety and some other key positions, and he worked with department heads to identify 15 percent in spending cuts.

“Like everyone else, city officials have faced considerable challenges during this crisis. With the help of our department heads, we have kept pace with a rapidly changing landscape, while continuing to provide uninterrupted essential services.”

City officials projected a $5.5 million budget shortfall, later revised downward to $5.1 million, before shaving approximately $1.5 million in expenses as part of a first round of budget cuts. City officials caution that the numbers are fluid and subject to revision.

“Without a fund balance,” Mayor Rolison pointed out, “revenue shortfalls must be met by expense-side cuts. Through June 30, the City has reduced general fund spending by more than $2.5 million, when compared to the same period last year.”

The Mayor emphasized that federal aid to states and local governments is essential to local government operations.

“As the debate in Washington over the nature of the next round of economic stimulus drags into summer, communities will suffer the consequences. Make no mistake, these will not be the consequences of COVID-19. They will be the result of failing to include state and local governments in whatever final agreement is reached between the House and the Senate.”

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.”

Poughkeepsie Joins Select Group in Harvard Graduate School of Education Initiative

Poughkeepsie City School Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser and City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison are pleased to announce that Poughkeepsie has been invited to join a consortium of cities participating in the “By All Means” initiative created by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab.

Earlier this year, the Mayor and Superintendent formed the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet to develop a shared vision and cradle-to-career path for child growth in the city.

Across the country, Children’s Cabinets are used by localities 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.

Continue reading Poughkeepsie Joins Select Group in Harvard Graduate School of Education Initiative

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 to be Featured Speaker at Chamber’s ‘Virtual Contact Breakfast’

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison will provide updates to the business community and take questions during the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s hour-long “Virtual Contact Breakfast” at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, May 20.

The Mayor and his team have been responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19), ensuring that first responders and other essential employees are able to complete their tasks while realigning the work of other employees in a changing environment.

The Mayor recognizes the coronavirus is bringing financial challenges to the City and is working with department heads to make adjustments to the City budget.

“We have done everything we can to stay ahead of the crisis, and I thank our employees and the city as a whole for working together during this difficult time,” he said.

The City Administration has worked closely with Dutchess County and state officials to react and respond to the crisis – and to ensure the public is receiving a cohesive message about what steps the various levels of government are taking to address the crisis and to begin reopening. The City has created a comprehensive online guide, which also is published weekly in the city’s “The Buzz” newsletter, that provides updates and offers key web links to a range of important information, from health and safety to food and other types of assistance. The website is www.cityofpoughkeepsie.com/coronavirus.

The Mayor also acknowledged the hardship the pandemic has caused to the business community and local nonprofit organizations. He encourages business and nonprofits to stay informed through The Dutchess Business Notification Network (DBNN), which includes the local Chamber of Commerce and is providing updates and highlighting the assistance available through state and federal agencies. The DBNN’s website is www.dutchessbnn.com.

“The Chamber has been providing webinars and other resources to the business community since the pandemic began, and we pride ourselves on offering our members and guests the opportunity to connect with our elected officials,” said Frank Castella Jr., president and CEO of Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This event with Mayor Rob Rolison will give us important updates from the City of Poughkeepsie as we continued to prepare to reopen the business community.”

Mayor Rolison said he looks forward to seeing the City and Dutchess County reopen, and the City has continued to work on a number of key initiatives, including updating its Comprehensive Plan, something that hasn’t been undertaken in more than two decades.

He also has collaborated with Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser to form a “Children’s Cabinet” aimed at creating a shared vision and cradle-to-career agenda for child and youth development in the city. During the Virtual Contact Breakfast, Mayor Rolison is expected to explain why he believes this initiative is so important to the whole community, including business leaders.

Members of the business community are invited to this complimentary event on Zoom – you do not need to be a member of the Chamber to participate. Registration is required and can be done through the Chamber’s website at www.dcrcoc.org. It will also be streamed live on the Chamber’s and City’s Facebook pages.

Poughkeepsie Mayor, Superintendent to Hold Second Facebook Live Meeting to Discuss COVID-19 Responses

City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison and Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser will host a Facebook live meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 7, to update residents on the city’s and school district’s responses to the COVID-19 crisis.

The meeting will be live on the city’s Facebook page, and the public will be able to ask questions in the “comments” field. Questions also can be sent in advance to bit.ly/2ndVirtualTownHall.

Earlier this year, the Mayor and Superintendent created the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet to shepherd a shared vision and cradle-to-career path for child development in the city. They named an executive committee, which includes leaders in higher education, hospitals, nonprofits and other sectors. 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.