The Grinch has arrived for the City of Poughkeepsie as the Rolison Administration has approached the Common Council needing to close a large budget hole with just two weeks left in the year.

“Our up-to-the-day number is about $1 million, including the $800,000 [reduction] from [the state’s Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding], and that’s the gap we will be addressing at tonight’s meeting,” City Administrator Marc Nelson told the Hudson Valley Observer

New York State is facing a $15 billion budget gap because of COVID-19 pandemic expenses and the resulting economic downturn. Months ago, the state’s budget authorized a 20% reduction in AIM payments if Congress approved no federal relief.

During a financial update on Oct. 5, the Poughkeepsie administration discussed a potential year-end budget hole and possible solutions

“The administration’s projected shortfall for this year is significantly higher than expected,” said Councilmember Sarah Brannen. “We were told that the sale of a Rinaldi Blvd property for $290,000 and contingency funds of $323,000 would shrink that gap. I’m looking forward to hearing in the finance committee meeting tonight what changed in the past 60 days.”

The council’s finance committee will hold an emergency meeting this afternoon at 5:30 pm to consider options, including the proposed sale of 78 Taylor Ave. Nearby residents oppose the Taylor Avenue sale, which would lead to the construction of an apartment building at the end of a street with single-family homes.

“Furloughing employees should be an absolute last resort,” said Sarah Salem, Chair of the Common Council. “We took the administration’s advice and implemented revenue-generating and cost-saving measures.… Now we’re learning that our shortfall is much higher than anticipated, in the midst of a pandemic and during the holiday season. We’ve got to put our heads together and come up with another solution…”

The City of Poughkeepsie was already considered one of the most fiscally stressed in New York by the New York State Comptroller’s Office and has a negative fund balance. Like most municipalities, it is facing a COVID-19-related downturn in revenues.

“So far, the city has repeatedly found ways to avoid layoffs and furloughs, and I remain optimistic we can do so once again,” said Nelson.

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