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The Berkshires

Poughkeepsie Common Council offers up a third budget option

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Albany/HV: Poughkeepsie Common Council offers up a third budget option
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Poughkeepsie's Democratic caucus presents a budget proposal that could save the city's garbage pick-up and 17 workers slated for layoffs. With so much trash talk, YNN's John Wagner lays out the new plan.

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Thanks to a $4 million budget gap, the City of Poughkeepsie is stuck in the dump, looking for a way to cut costs. The mayor proposed eliminating garbage pickup entirely or a pay per trash bag--once a week pickup alternative. But the council chair says the third plan can clean up the mess.

"By charging a user fee, we can sustain the whole sanitation department. It pays for all the operating costs," said Poughkeepsie City Council Chairwoman Gwen Johnson.

The Democrat Council chair says due to overwhelming discontent in the Republican mayor's plans, she developed a local law to establish sanitation user fees, like those for water or sewer. With a single family home charged $22 a month or $264 dollars a year, the fees would pay for full sanitation service and save seventeen jobs. The mayor, on the other hand, isn't buying it.

"Their plan is very vague in detail and it actually raises more questions than it does answers," said Mayor John Tkazyik.

The council plans to hold a public hearing and vote on the local law to amend the budget on December 10th. The mayor then has ten days to veto, giving the Democrat lead council just enough time before the holidays to override his veto, passing the budget.

"We probably will be voting on this, overriding the mayor vetoes on Christmas Eve morning," said Johnson.

The best Christmas present for all our members will be for them to have a job come January 1st," said local CSEA Vice-President Bruce Dooris.

The mayor says this talk about trash is a tax hike in disguise and it may be garbage.

"This is an ill-conceived plan and it appears at a first glance that this plan cannot be legally implemented," said Mayor Tkazyik.

But Johnson says her plan mirrors other New York cities, and that she has the state comptroller on her side. Now it's just up to locals to make their choice known.

"They can go with the designer bags," said Gwen Johnson. "If they want to go with private pickup, eliminating all of the sanitation workers, those are the only other two options. So either way, you're going to pay. It's just a matter of who, how and when." ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP