Smarter Budget

Posted on Posted in My Platform
  • Improve parking policies.
  • Replace unfair sanitation fee/tax.
  • Direct spending towards development that improves residents’ lives.

It is no surprise that our city is in dire fiscal straits. Poughkeepsie can’t resolve its budget woes through haphazard measures like parking meters and random sales of city property. We’ve had to make some hard choices, but by focusing our funds on areas that encourage tourism, new development, and smart (planned!) growth, I’m confident we are turning things around and are on a path to a vibrant future.

The parking meters on our Main Street are a boondoggle. Meters exist to change how long spots are occupied and how many spots are filled — not raise revenue. What is worse, is that the parking lots (where we do want cars to stay) are priced higher than the city streets! There are far better policies that ensure convenient access to our business district without the illusion of city income. We should enforce existing parking time limits, encourage use of our city lots, and make accessibility of parking easier. We should also move and reprice our meters to the locations where the parking advisers originally called for them instead of burdening poorer areas of downtown that have never had parking congestion.

Besides the downtown meters, we have a mishmash of conflicting alternate-side parking rules throughout the city. Theoretically these are for DPW services like plowing and street sweeping, but we don’t have the right coordination to make things line up properly. We need to reduce the impact on city residents by ensuring that parking rules are coordinated with DPW and only force residents to move when necessary.

Moving our sanitation budget into a separate “fee” is a perfect example of the kind of shell-game other parties on the Council have played for too long. Already it has proven unworkable in terms of escrow holders refusing to pay, and legal challenges regarding larger properties. That’s why I championed an effort to put the fee back in front of property owners on a separate mailing. The next step is to turn the fee into something that makes sense and doesn’t burden our residents. I’ve seen the trash blow down my street the same way you have, and I’ve heard plenty of ideas that seem better than what we’ve got today. We need to have public hearings/surveys on several of the alternatives and choose the best option for our residents and our budget.

As we fill in our blighted areas, draw people to our waterfront and business district, and direct spending on things that improve desirability like planning, public safety, and sanitation, we will notice that the other problems get resolved as well. Accessibility and desirability are feedback loops: a little investment in the right places can go a very long way!