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Peekskill City Budget Vote is Tonight

The Peekskill Common Council will vote on the 2013 budget during tonight's special meeting inside city hall.

Peekskill officials are scheduled to vote on next year’s budget during tonight’s special Common Council meeting.

The latest proposal, which was unveiled by the Peekskill Common Council Monday, proposes a general fund budget of $35.4 million general fund. In addition, about $1.28 million has been budgeted for the city's sewer fund, $7.9 million for Section 8 and $6.6 million for the water fund.

 The spending plan represents a 3.82 percent tax levy increase and the average taxpayer would pay about $73 a year more in taxes. 

 The plan also calls for 18 layoffs, the merger of payroll and personnel finance functions, the preservation of full time at the Kiley Center the city's pre-school and recreation programs. The city’s planning, economic development, building and code enforcement departments and clerical staff would also be combined.

 In addition to the layoffs, 11 other city workers are taking part in an early retirement incentive program that was offered.

 “We have taken, very seriously, the budget message that was presented to us by the city manager and as I know we’re hearing throughout the county, these continue to be very pressing and difficult budget times for everybody,” Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said during Monday’s Common Council meeting. “And I want to praise the staff for having worked very hard to get us where we are right  now.”

 Regardless of what number the Common Council approves tonight, it’s unlikely the budget will receive universal praise from residents.

 Resident George Ondek called Foster and Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton tax and spend liberals during Monday’s public hearing on the budget. He believes the city is having financial difficulties because the mayor has had too many pet projects over the years.  

 “It’s because you have an utopian idea of what you think Peekskill should be is why we’re in this mess that we’re in and it appears that you’re bankrupting us,” Ondek said. “We’re having to let 29 hard working people go and that’s on your heads.” 

 Leesther Brown, another city resident, questioned the Council’s decision to eliminate jobs  during the budget process. She brought up one woman who held a part-time position in the city’s Youth Bureau. 

 “This young lady, who has been burned out, now has no job, who lifted herself up from the welfare rolls and everything else now has no job,” Brown said. “Burned out of her house [with] nothing. Did you guys consider that—these are real people with real families and real issues.”

Darrell Davis, leader of the Committee for Justice, said the Council didn’t do an adequate job of finding other revenue streams to help during this latest budget crunch.

“I don’t know why, before you started chopping, you didn’t empower citizens or other elected officials to make sure money came through,” Davis said. “Peekskill is a small city. You weren’t talking about a whole lot of money.”

Jay Dresser, a park ranger in the city, said his job duties also included traffic control, meter collection and other support roles for the police department. He  was informed that his was being cut the Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving.

“Last year alone, I wrote 2,300 tickets,” Dresser said as he made one last appeal for his job Monday. “I would think that alone would cover the cost of my job. That’s revenue for the city.”

Tonight’s special meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. inside Peekskill city hall. A copy of the resolution can be found in the PDF attached to this story.

Anabasis Bob November 29, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Fat bloated Mayor installs fat bloated firehouse in order to get free donuts for her fat bloated staff. Not the way it would have worked in the Anabasis.
Jill Gertz November 29, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Sorry to say but there are too many Peekskill people in the wagon and not enough pulling it. Half the PHS kids qualify for free lunch. Now the illegals have forced Assumption to close because they don't pay their freight. Seniors left in this town can't keep getting squeezed to pay for a population of spongers. I know there are some real needy - and the spongers hurt them too. Alinskyite Darrell Davis dogging the city for not finding "revenue streams" is a joke since he spent a lot of time complaining about yuppies and gentrification. He worked for a Peekskill that looked poor and broke like Cuba and now he's on his way.
peekskillman November 29, 2012 at 10:37 PM
@A.Bob--sir, all you have to do is look at who is presenting the firehouse plans, both the committee and the architect. As stated here before, the building was drawn up by Bob Mitchell Assoc, on the whims and dreams of a committee made up of almost entirely volunteer firemen, headed by a retire phys ed coach from PHS. Big voting bloc. Mr. Mitchell also did the comparison study referred to by many at the meeting on Mon nite; of course it was in his best interest to upgrade the amount of work needed to repair the existing buildings, as a new one means more work ($) for him. This is also the first firehouse that he has designed and built as a one-man firm, so I dont think that we as a City want to be a tester for his plans. All who spoke, including the head of the firemen union, are against this building. Too big, emminent domain, existing parcels off the tax rolls,etc. A smart thing to do would be to have referendum, put it the people's choice, and see where it goes. My bet is that it gets voted down. When all is done if it goes thru, the cost will be over $30 million, inc interest. Too much in these hard economic times
leesther brown November 30, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Ooooooooops!....Well after the axe came down I was waiting outside the slaughter house(City Hall) the Mayor says that "my information is wrong,and that Anthony Ruggerio is indeed leaving"...So after that exchange Anthony comes out and says I have to do what's right for me,and it's my decision to make"...who said the Mayor doesn't read the blogs?!!!....She indeed demoted the Captain of the Police,he will now be a Lt....#messy....
ED HICKEY November 30, 2012 at 07:58 AM
Outstanding! Many informed, involved, and passionate yet objective commentary! First, I must agree wholeheartedly that the "Firehouse of All Firehouses", was/is a dismal and career ending decision for many presently serving as elected/appointed officials. I also have been genuinely perplexedfrom the inception of this grandious idea, through the most recent emminent domain proceedings which Mayor Foster all but gauranteed would not be necessary, nor would she decide to take this route. My question is this, hoping someone can either confirm or dispell the rumor that the associated 1% real estate tax imposed on all residents who sell/sold their home since the inception of the Firehouse plan for the purpose of generating funds to assist in the ill-advised project, is allegedly unaccounted for.

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