Poughkeepsie mayor proposes cost-cutting sanitation measures
To bridge a $4 million budget gap, Poughkeepsie's mayor proposed a plan that eliminates garbage pickup in the city. He's now releasing an amended budget that cuts trash collection days down, but saves jobs. YNN's John Wagner has the details.
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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Poughkeepsie's mayor, John Tkazyik, says this year's budget is the toughest he's ever had to put together. If residents want to keep their taxes low, he says garbage pickup needs to go.
"Municipalities have to do more with less, we cannot continue to function and operate the way we did five years ago or even a year ago," said Mayor Tkazyik.
Tkazyik offered a no garbage budget, laying off 13 sanitation workers and five other city employees, amongst other cost cutting measures, keeping within the two percent tax cap. Amidst opposition, the mayor released a sanitation job saving option this week, cutting trash pickup from two days to one, and requiring residents to pay $3 per 30 gallon trash bag that they throw out. It also relies on some concessions from sanitation workers. But some opponents still think it stinks.
"The one thing I don't want us to be known as is ‘Rat City,’ when people start doing illegal dumping because they can't afford these designer bags and so garbage piles up in their backyard, or they make midnight runs," said Poughkeepsie City Council Chairwoman Gwen Johnson.
"When you can have 70 percent of your budget going to public safety, and the mayor says he doesn't want to cut any of that, to me it's garbage," said Gus Kazolias, a Poughkeepsie city resident.
But the mayor says to keep trash pickup with no changes, locals would see a 16 percent tax hike, running some out of town and adding vacant buildings.
"Not be realistic, and not be responsible. People aren't paying their taxes and bills now at a mandated two percent," said Mayor Tkazyik.
Common council members are working on a third option, but the pay by the trash bag method, is receiving a warmer reception.
"It's a way to have people keep their garbage costs down by recycling," said Poughkeepsie City Councilman Joseph Rich.
But Democrats question whether either option actually stays under the tax cap.
"It's called the political shell game, I don't raise your taxes this way, but you know I'm going to increase some fees another way, so either way you’re paying," said Johnson.
If you want your voice heard in the budget debate, a public hearing will be held November 5th at City Hall.