Poughkeepsie is rich in its heritage, its people, and its potential—but with no plan, potential is all we have. Poughkeepsie’s progress on many of the core challenges that our neighbors have experienced has stalled. Why? Because our leadership does not have a plan. From waterfront development to downtown revitalization, and now, the topic of the former YMCA. The past three and a half years has demonstrated one thing—this mayor refuses to make a plan. We have lost money that Poughkeepsie desperately needs because the administration has not been proactive. We need an administration that knows their role in leading the city is to attract investment, not give our assets away for free, one ninety-nine year lease at a time. With the right investors, we can overcome the stagnation our local economy faces. By prioritizing the livability and sustainable development, I will put together a plan to make Poughkeepsie—an already attractive place to invest—the best place to invest in the region.
The Combined Tax Burden
The last school budget increase took $4.4 million dollars out of taxpayer’s pockets. The near totality of that went to salary increases for administration. The following years, the graduation rate went down.
Then mayor raised taxes 16.5%. This year, turning a blind eye to the tax burden, the mayor announced that the city has a $300 thousand budget surplus. Enough is enough.
The city does not just have a $90 million budget, it has two other incomes: State and Federal Grants; and Tax Credits from payments for real estate development in lieu of taxes.
This administration, after Multiple requests and Freedom of Information Requests have been filed, refuses to release the audit of how much the city is receiving in grant funding from the state.
Additionally, the city does not have an audit of how many developers owe the city for their unpaid tax abatement, and instead leaves the work of collecting the city’s tax revenue to the discretion of the Industrial Development Agency. That’s not good government.
The city needs a comprehensive plan to stabilize the taxes over the next 5, 15, and 30 years. My plan is to first, go after the unpaid money we are owed. Secondly, I will enforce the building codes and anti-warehousing laws we already have on the books to combat ghost ownership and absentee landlords.
Next, I will prioritize grant funding for revitalizing the downtown and historic preservation. Right now, Poughkeepsie is eligible for a $10 million grant to beautify this city, our neighbors in the region have already received it. Additionally, the school district, with a high turn-over in administration is regularly defaulting on grant deadlines. The administration has sat on its hands.
I plan to extend my dedicated grant writing team at city hall to the school district so that our inter-municipal agency can help bring in every dollar that we are eligible for here in the city and alleviate the regularly rising tax burden here in the city.
Thirdly, I will put an end to the era of one-sides tax incentives for local developers with relationships to city hall.
Lastly, I will return the sales tax revenue to the City of Poughkeepsie. With the additional income the city is owed, we can stave off additional tax increases.
There are about 500 vacant and abandoned homes and retail propertied. Though blight has ravaged many neighborhoods, the North Side of this city has seen more of its devastating effects. More homes and properties catch fire on the North Side—building fire that led to the tragic loss of life under this administration’s watch.
We have a complex system of issues that needs a proactive administration. Code enforcement is the greatest tool in the city’s toolbox to combat slumlords, absentee landlords and warehousing of our properties by eternal investors. All of these factors drive the value of our properties down, and freeze the equity, and the potential of the city.
To combat this, we need an administration that is proactive, and aggressive about defending the value of our neighborhoods from predatory investors, absentee landlords, and sadly—the loss of life. To combat this, we need new leadership
The city has debt, but debt it can manage. Death, however, it cannot. This administration’s policy of “debt above all else” is preventing us from making the necessary investments we need in our city. Investments in our youth to keep them off of the street and out of the way of bullets aimed in broad daylight. Investments into our property to keep them from falling on our residents as they are walking by, or sleeping.
If the city’s $13 million dollar debt was the single most important issue, why did this mayor turn over the city’s $13 million sales tax revenue to the county?
A city’s credit rating is not simply defined based its debt, but on a variety of factors from livability to safety. Poughkeepsie will not be strong-armed into paying more to service our debt at the cost of our safety, our infrastructure, and the lives of our residents.
Let it also be known, that of the city’s $11 million remaining debt, $10 million of that figure is a claim against a former manufacture for polluting the land on our waterfront, and costing the city $10 million for for having to clean it up. The City of Poughkeepsie is presently has a suit against the manufacturer to recoup the $10 million lost several decades ago. Let it also be know that the State of New York has joined the City of Poughkeepsie’s claim to recover the $10 million we are owed.
If we are going to service our credit, and regain a stable financial footing and recover the money owed to us, we need a mayor who is going to take a holistic approach to the city’s financial health, not speed to pay more than our fair share in debt repayment.
The era of warehousing all affordable housing into low-income complexes—developments that keep us divided across economic lines—are over. I believe in mixed market development. As we grow, we need to make sure that our families and residents have the room to grow with us. I believe the city needs development standards: mandating a percentage of all new housing units going on the market to be affordable, and or rent-to own. For our housing market to remain fair, this policy is necessary. For our housing market to remain fair, Poughkeepsie needs new leadership.
Being a resident of the City of Poughkeepsie means being a resident of one of the most scenic waterfronts in New York State. We need a plan to make sure that as we develop, all of our residents have access to the waterfront.
With the $500 million expansion of Vassar Hospital, and the incoming Medical College at Marist College, we need to plan to build out the commercial infrastructure necessary for our anchor institutions to help us expand our economy, as well as the pedestrian infrastructure that is necessary for our residents to live well in the city.
Investing in Infrastructure
Poughkeepsie is a walking district. So why are our sidewalks, our crosswalks and our roads in such bad shape?
The city needs to invest in our infrastructure, and not just on the South Side of the city. When we ask our residents to take a more active role in maintaining a clean city, we have to make the investment into maintaining the infrastructure of our city.
We need help from our federal government, but we cannot wait for them. We need help from our state government, but we cannot wait for them. We need to take initiative on replacing the pipes that give us one of the highest rates of child lead poisoning in the nation. We need to take initiative on replacing the water filtration infrastructure that is aging. The infrastructure of this city needs to be a priority of this city.
Right now, plywood is holding up the balconies of some of our most historic homes on Academy Street. Brick-lined streets are crumbling in the Union Street District.
Poughkeepsie is a historic city, with entire historic neighborhoods in crisis. The city has to invest in its heritage. With the money this administration is throwing away in tax abatement given and uncollected, we could sponsor a fund for the historic preservation of our neighborhoods. We could match the investments that homeowners are putting into the maintenance and rebuilding of our historic homes and neighborhoods.
We have a responsibility to maintain our city’s history for future generations. But to do so, we need new leadership.
Sales Tax REvenue
The next mayor will oversee the negotiations of