“Laser focus” Poughkeepsie budget raises tax levy slightly


POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor Robert Rolison’s proposed 2019 city budget for next year comes in under the state tax cap.
The spending plan, Rolison’s third since taking office, calls for an overall tax increase of 1.83 percent, which is under the New York State “tax cap.”   The residential tax levy goes up only one cent, to $13.30.
City Administrator Marc Nelson credits the realistic budget with the mayor being “laser-focused” on improving the city’s finances.
“When we sat down to do the budget work for 2019, we were able to reduce overtime,” Nelson said. “We were also able to reduce the expense associated with folks leaving because when people take their retirement and they leave, the city ends up paying them what is due for vacation and accrued time and sometimes those payments can be pretty significant and often times they are not budgeted for.”
The budget calls for a total appropriation of $90.5 million with a general fund appropriation $52.2 million.
Rolison called the budget a sound spending plan. “I think it’s a smart budget given the financial wherewithal we have to do with certain things,” he said.
The mayor said the budget makes “important investments” in the city and continues the multi-year plan to stabilize city finances, improve the bond rating, and reduce the general fund deficit – all while staying under the tax cap for the second straight year.” 
The reduction of the general fund deficit is a priority objective of the 2019 budget.  “Without a so-called ‘rainy day fund’ it is absolutely essential that we allocate resources in the most efficient manner possible, that we not budget phantom revenues, and that we accurately estimate our future expenses,” Rolison said.  “This budget accomplishes all of that.”
Public safety has long been a priority of Rolison and the 2019 budget includes initiatives that increase spending in that sector.  Dash cameras for police vehicles and body cameras for the officers have been included to improve both the safety of the officers and the community.
`The mayor also plans to spend more in the Department of Public Works for the second year in a row.  Rolison says “these are clearly the two areas where our limited resources can have the greatest impact on our city.”
The city has twice weekly garbage pick-up along with weekly pick-up of recyclables.  Sanitation will see a rate increase under the proposed budget with single-family homes slated to see an increase of $50 per year, $100 per year for two-family homes and nominal increases in other categories of service.  Nelson says that the increases are necessary to “keep pace with rising costs.”
Citing improvements in parking, infrastructure and pedestrian safety combined with the proposed new medical school coming to Vassar Medical Center, Rolison said “this budget sends a strong message to all who would invest in our city. We will be ready.” 

Popular Stories