Rolison’s 2023 preliminary budget including a reduction in taxes

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City of Poughkeepsie officials look over the work of the preliminary 2023 budget. From left are City Administrator Marc Nelson, Finance Commissioner Dr. Brian Martinez, Mayor Rob Rolison and Assistant to the Mayor Stacey Bottoms.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor Rob Rolison, in the last year of his leadership of the City of Poughkeepsie, has released a $109 million preliminary budget for 2023 which includes a general fund appropriation of approximately $69 million.

The preliminary spending plan is under the New York State property tax cap for the sixth consecutive year and will be reviewed by the common council for adjustments and approval.

The budget does include increases in water and sewer rates due to inflation; however, the sanitation rates will remain the same.  Water rates will increase by 4.9 percent and sewer rates will rise by 4.8 percent.

In Rolison’s latest spending plan, the homestead tax rate declines from $11.54 to $10.28 per $1,000 of assessed value, a decrease of 10.94 percent, while the non-homestead rate declines from $16.13 to $15.15 per $1,000 of assessed value, equal to a 6.04 percent decrease.  The nearly 300-page 2023 preliminary budget can be found here.

“This budget continues our conservative and thoughtful planning, which takes a balanced and sustainable approach to the dual but competing goals of enhancing and improving city services and infrastructure, while at the same time eliminating our general fund deficit and improving our balance sheet,” said Mayor Rolison in his budget message.

When Rolison first became mayor, the city’s finances were in shambles as a result of reckless spending under the previous administration and the city had a general fund deficit of $13.2 million. During Rolison’s tenure, which comes to an end in December due to term limits, the city has greatly reduced the deficit which currently stands at $2.8 million.  

“Today our general fund deficit stands at $2.8 million, and we expect that a small surplus in the current year will further improve that important measure of the city’s overall financial condition,” he said. “In 2023, we will completely eliminate that deficit and begin to re-establish reserves in accordance with best practices in municipal finance.” 

“We recognize the burdens that have been placed on businesses and homeowners and have developed a budget that provides cushions while enabling our city departments to serve residents in the best ways they can,” said City Administrator Marc Nelson, touting the reductions in the homestead and non-homestead tax rates.

The mayor also said the city’s financial picture has been bolstered overall through the renegotiated 10-year sales tax agreement with Dutchess County and the City of Beacon — an effort that rebalances the county’s distribution of collected sales taxes under a much more equitable formula, recognizing the city’s special role as the county seat. 

The 2023 budget proposal also includes $8.8 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that have not yet been allocated. ARPA funds will be used for a number of key initiatives, including:

  • Expansion of mental health professionals embedded within the police department. 
  • New technology and new vehicles for the police department. 
  • Four new firefighter positions.
  • Replacement and upgrades to firefighting equipment (including purchasing new turnout gear and personal ensembles for every firefighter).
  • Major city park improvements include the design and construction of a new pool house at Pulaski Park. 
  • Increased funding for the Youth Grant Program that was established in 2018.
  • Additional funding in support of the arts in the city.
  • Modernization and upgrades for the City’s information technology infrastructure.
  • Equipment purchases for the Department of Public Works.
  • Ward-specific initiatives as proposed by city council members.

The administration will present the budget at a November meeting of the common council.