Rolison’s 2020 budget proposal calls for first tax cut in 10 years


POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison has released his proposed 2020 budget that calls for a tax cut for the first time in a decade. The $89 million plan being submitted to the common council is the third year in a row that the mayor’s proposed budget stays under the New York State tax cap.

The tax levy is just under $24.5 million $ -$495,525 – which is a 1.82 percent increase over 2019.  Rolison has proposed lowering the Homestead tax rate from $13.30 per $1,000 of assessed value down to $13.24 per $1,000 of assessed value.

When Rolison took office four years ago, the mayor said he had taken the reigns of a city that had “runaway spending and poor revenue estimates.”  At that time, the city had a General Fund deficit of $13.2 million.  During his tenure, the deficit has dropped down to less than $8 million.
The deficit is the major reason that the state comptroller still considers Poughkeepsie to be under “significant financial stress.” In delivering the budget to the common council, 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 mayor’s proposal has been presented with no changes to water, sewer, or sanitation rates.  The budget does incorporate $1,000,000 in projected revenue from parking fines.
In the public safety area, the police department is eligible to apply for a Federal Cops grant now and plans to use it to add up to five additional officers in 2020.

There are currently three vacancies within the department. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney will join Mayor Rolison next week to discuss federal support for funding police officers.

Rolison: First city tax cut in a decade
Police Officer Kevin VanWagner, PBA union president, weighed in on the budget, saying “The mayor’s budget continues to make investments in public safety. The PBA has been working with the administration to come up with mutually agreeable solutions that benefit the city’s residents and businesses.  The members of the PBA will continue to protect the city and look forward to continued support from the mayor.”
The city’s fire department will be adding another deputy chief position, the second in the department, to support the safety inspection program and training functions.
Fire Chief Mark Johnson said the intention is to promote someone from within the department to the newly created position.  The salary for the position is listed at $102,336 annually.
Firefighter Nick Bucher, president of the IAFF Local 596, the union representing the firefighters, said, “While the budget doesn’t address our staffing levels, which are currently below the national standard, we hope to work with the administration over the next year to ensure that, as the city continues to grow, we grow with it.  In the meantime, we will continue to provide the best service possible.”
CSEA Local 814 represents city employees outside of the police and fire departments.  President Darren Young said, “Overall, the budget makes some improvements to ease the workload currently experienced by some of his members that work for the city.  Our members are dedicated to working with the Mayor to continue moving the city in the right direction.”  He commended Police Chief Tom Pape and Mayor Rolison for proposing to restore a few Police Aide positions that had been vacant for some time.
Recently, the common council voted to increase salaries of council members taking office in January, by a little more than 66 percent.  The mayor’s salary was not addressed by the council.  Rolison’s proposed budget includes a raise for the mayor’s position effective next year.  The mayor currently earns $25,000 per year.  His proposed budget raises the salary to $72,000 annually.  The mayor has been working full time for part-time pay.
Rolison has proposed a 2.5 percent salary increase for city management positions.

This is Rolison’s fourth city budget presented to the council. “This budget, like my previous budgets, supports our primary objective of making our city safer, cleaner, and stronger.  It builds on a solid record of fiscal responsibility and deficit reduction, while at the same time improving local government’s service to its citizens.”

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