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The Charter Commission was empaneled in 2015. This bi-partisan commission was formed as a direct response to persistent and ongoing problems encountered by both the administration and the Common Council that could be traced to structural issues inherent in the city’s charter. As a result, representatives from both the executive and legislative branches at the time requested that the commission be formed to study these recurring problems and to suggest revisions that would correct them. The commission, Anne E Saylor, Patrick J. Watson, Scott L. Volkman, Peter C. McGinnis, Carmen M. McGill, Ronald J. McGaw, Michael C. Petronio and Jode Susan Millman, Esq. was empaneled and charged with completing its work and presenting its findings and recommendations to the Mayor, Common Council and the public.
Since it was formed in 2015, the Commission has spent the last year interviewing many former and current city employees, department heads, and elected officials in order to better understand how the City Charter affected their day to day work. From these interviews a clearer picture emerged on those issues contributed to administrative and legislative problems.
It was believed by many of those interviewed that some of these issues could be traced to ambiguities and lack of clarity found in the current City Charter. In addition to conducting in depth interviews, the Commission also, with financial assistance from the Dyson Foundation, engaged the Benjamin Institute at SUNY New Paltz to conduct a comprehensive review of municipal government throughout New York State. The Institute’s report helped provide a strong basis for comparing how similarly sized cities throughout the state are structured, giving the Commission a sense of what works in other small- to mid-sized cities.
It is believed that the recommendations offered by the City Charter Review Commission will provide the basis for improving city government by eliminating deficiencies and ambiguities in the current City Charter while strengthening both the executive and legislative branches, enabling each branch to do its job better. Fixing these structural problems in the city’s charter can only help the city tackle the tough issues that it faces today.
Until 1994 Poughkeepsie had a Council-Administrator form of government where the Mayor, while elected from all city voters, held the same power as each of the eight member of the Common Council, each elected by voters from his/her wards. This system was widely referred to as a "weak mayor" system. In 1994, the city enacted changes recommended at the time by an earlier charter review commission, that the city adopt Mayor-Administrator form of government. Their goal was to create a separation of powers and a system of checks and balances.
Although many refer to this current system as a "strong mayor" system the commission has found that this term is not accurate. As determined by the Benjamin Institute the City of Poughkeepsie’s current Charter creates a hybrid form of government that exists nowhere else in New York State. Under this charter, the mayor cannot hire or fire department heads; the city administrator does this. Meanwhile, the Mayor appoints the City Administrator, but that appointment is subject to the approval of the Common Council. This often creates confusion about who’s really in charge. The Charter Review Commission’s goal was to essentially carry out the original and recommended intent of the previous commission by creating a true strong mayor. A mayor who can hire and fire the administrator and department heads. Under the proposed system, the buck will stop with the mayor while the laws (and purse strings) will be maintained by the Common Council.
The Commission considered all the standard forms of government including the council-city administrator form. Under such a system the day-to-day operation of the city would be run by a professional but unelected administrator accountable to the council but not the people. The mayor would go back to being just like one of the council people. The Commission determined this would represent a throwback to the previous structure of the late 20th Century and not in the long term interest of the city.
Under the recommended changes, the mayor would become a full-time elected official who would no longer step in to break tie votes on the Common Council. This oddity often served to blur the lines between the executive and legislative functions of each branch. The Mayor would also be empowered to hire and fire department heads, providing him/her with the authority necessary to clearly direct the city’s priorities.
As was determined through the Commission’s in depth interviews with past mayors and other city officials it is clear that, in order to be effective, the position demands the full time and attention of the office holder. It was also determined that most of the mayors who have served the City of Poughkeepsie over the past 30 years have worked full time for a part-time salary. The discrepancy between the required workload and the pay has limited the pool of people willing and able to run for this office. It is Commission’s hope that aligning the charter with reality will encourage more highly-qualified and experienced people to run for office in the future.
Because there are eight wards in the City of Poughkeepsie, there is a need for a tie breaking ninth vote that can establish important legislative priorities and move city initiatives forward. While the Commission considered reducing the number of wards to 5 or 7 wards to create an odd number to address this structural problem but commission members felt the addition of a ninth member would be most acceptable and productive solution to elected officials and the public.
Because he/she would be elected by all city voters, the new at large Council member would serve as the Council Chairperson. They would be responsible for establishing the Common Council agenda by working with other council members, the mayor and the city administrator. They will also have the authority to establish committees which can focus on specific areas like finances and safety.
The Commission felt strongly the Council Chair should be elected by all city residents and therefore represent the interests of all wards. At election time this person would be accountable to all the city residents and not just the residents of one ward. In the other 29 municipalities in Dutchess County and the Mid-Hudson Valley cities of Kingston and Newburgh, the Council Chair is elected by all the voters. It is important to note, however, that legislative party caucuses and their leadership will be maintained, allowing for both a Majority Leader and a Minority Leader position on the Council. These positions will continue to hold legislative authority in establishing and enacting party priorities.
The mayor isn’t on the council. Except for the budget, the mayor can’t propose resolutions or laws. The mayor only votes in the event of a tie. Most importantly, except for Mayor’s comments and when he’s asked a question, he is not permitted to take part in conversations at council meetings.
By law all wards have essentially the same number of voters so there is no mathematical reason one or two wards should dominate. The commission was very aware that wards vote at different rates. This is one of the reasons it didn’t choose to reduce the number of wards. It wanted to maintain the healthy diversity on our current council.
The Commission also firmly believes that the suggested change ensures that a resident from any ward could be elected to a city wide race if they present a positive, progressive and thoughtful agenda to the public.
The changes proposed by the Commissioner will cost the city a total of $73,500 which is.09% of the city’s $82 million budget. The Commission believes the small incremental expense represents an investment in creating a more efficiently run government. Those efficiencies and the resulting benefits that will come from a smoother more focused government will translate into savings and revenues that should vastly eclipse the cost of the investment.
We’re only proposing one additional part-time position - the Council Chair. The reality is that most of our part-time mayors have been working full time for decades so that really isn’t changing.
The fee for a certified copy of a Death Certificate is $10/per copy.
If you are not the spouse, parent, child or sibling of the deceased you must document a lawful right or claim. For example, you may need a death certificate to claim a benefit. You would need an official letter from the agency saying you need the death record to process the claim.
There are many reasons to request a correction or amendment to a death certificate from a simple typographical error to changing confidential medical information. Completing a DOH-299 application and supplying the correct supporting documents are critical steps to ensure that the correction or amendment is done in a timely manner. For more information, please visit New York State Vital Records.
To apply for a dog license, city residents must submit:
*All related event fees must be paid prior to obtaining any event or vendor permits. For more information on Events, please call 845-451-4200.
Applications will be reviewed carefully by the City. This process takes about 2 weeks. A planning meeting may be required, therefore, all event applications must be fully completed, signed and submitted to the City Chamberlain's Office (62 Civic Center Plaza - 1st Floor - Poughkeepsie, NY 12601) at least thirty (30) days prior to the first day of the event as set forth in Chapter 7 3/ 4, Article VI, Section 7 3/ 4--10(C) of the Poughkeepsie City Code or will be subject to rejection.
You and your healthcare provider can complete the Application for a Parking Permit or License Plates for Persons with Severe Disabilities (MV-664.1) on the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles site.
A Marriage Certificate is a certified copy of an already existing marriage and only for individuals who have already had a completed wedding ceremony. The fee is $10/per copy.
A Marriage License is for individuals who are not currently married. The license is valid for 60 days and has a 24 hour holding period.
Marriage Licenses are processed by appointment only. To make an appointment for your Marriage License, please visit our Appointment Scheduling Tool and select City Chamberlain, then “Marriage License”.
If you are over 18 and this is a first marriage, please bring a valid form of ID and your completed marriage worksheet, found here: Marriage License Worksheet (PDF)
If this is a subsequent marriage (not a first), please bring certified copies of all divorce decrees and/or death certificates. Copies of decrees and/or death certificates MUST be certified in order to successfully process your Marriage License.
*All marriage applicants must complete the Marriage License Worksheet (PDF) prior to your appointment
Municipal IDs are processed Monday and Friday between 9am – 3:30pm only. City residents aged 14 and older are eligible to apply for the Municipal ID. Applicants must submit a completed application form and a $10 fee.
For additional information, please visit the Municipal Identification Program page.
We do not issue Passports at the Chamberlain’s Office, however we can provide documentation to help you in your application process:
For additional information about passport applications, please visit the United States Post Office or Dutchess County Clerk’s office
Please visit the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance for additional information about Acknowledgement of Parentage (LDSS-5171)
At the Chamberlain’s office, we currently accept
Personal checks are acceptable only for Dog Licenses. We do not accept personal checks as forms of payment for any other services.
We offer 3 ways to make a payment:
Please note: We do not take payments over the phone.
When making a payment via our website please omit the "001."
Water Bills - Due Dates:
Sanitation - Due Dates:
To complete a final water read, please email or fax the following information:
Email Water and Sewer Billing
Each meter is assigned a minimum bill. For example, a 5/8 meter is billed the minimum of $56.80 when 0 to 7 units are used. The minimum units and rates associated with each meter size is available on the Finance Department home page.
Please send an email to Water and Sewer Billing instructing us to update the name and billing address. Please include the property address and account number. In the email please advise if the update is for water, sanitation, or both. To update the name into a tenants account the outstanding balance must be paid in full.
If the balance for your water account is not paid in full by early December, it will be added to your property taxes for next year. We will not shut off your water. If the sanitation balance is not paid in full by December 31st, it will be added to your property taxes for the following year.
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New York State established Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs) in 1969. The City of Poughkeepsie Industrial Development Agency is a public benefit corporation of the State of New York, which was created pursuant to Article 18-A, Title 2 Municipal Law of the State of New York.
The IDA was established under New York State law to assist economic development projects that create or otherwise foster employment and improve the municipal tax base. This assistance is provided in the form of one or more tax exemptions or abatements to promote, develop and assist in acquiring constructing, equipping and furnishing of qualified projects and facilities.
An applicant’s project(s) may qualify for sales and use tax exemption, mortgage recording tax exemption, and/or real property tax abatement in the form of a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT).
A person or entity (an "applicant’) that intends to undertake a project may submit an application on the Agency’s uniform application form. The applicant need not own or lease the property on which the project is to be located at the time of the making of an application but must own or lease such property at or prior to the time any such financial assistance is actually provided. The project for which financial assistance may be sought must comply with the requirements applicable to industrial development agencies under New York State law. The applicant must be able to demonstrate to the Agency’s satisfaction either that the project is not likely to be undertaken without the requested financial assistance (the so-called "but for" test) or, alternatively, explain in writing why financial assistance should nevertheless be provided by the Agency. The grant, denial and/or conditioning of any financial assistance by the Agency is entirely within its discretion. The types of applicants and projects disqualified for receiving IDA tax exemptions can be found in the Agency’s Uniform Tax Exemption Policy (UTEP) on the IDA page on the City of Poughkeepsie website.
The City of Poughkeepsie Board members are appointed by the City Common Council.
You can apply for a Non-Municipal Parking Permit at the City of Poughkeepsie Parking office located on the first floor at City Hall (62 Civic Center Plaza)
You can apply for a Municipal Parking Permit online
A Municipal Lot is a public space that allows parking for Non-Resident and Resident permit holders, and in some cases paid hourly users.
A Residential Lot as well as On-Street Permit parking is for Residents only.
You should have your Driver’s License and your vehicle registration
You should have your Driver’s License, your vehicles registration and proof of residency.
Proof of residency includes any one of the following:
You should bring your Driver’s License, your vehicles registration and proof of residency.
Municipal Lot Permits can be renewed monthly during the last week of the month.
Renewals can be made online:
Residential On-Street/Lot permits are renewed annually between December 1st and December 31st. You can renew by visiting the Parking Office located at City Hall.
We are located on the first floor of City Hall. 62 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.
In order to dispute a parking ticket, please submit a non-guilty plea. This can be located on the parking ticket or a copy of the parking ticket. Follow the instructions on the ticket to complete the process.
You can request a copy in-person at the Parking Office located on the first floor at City Hall (62 Civic Center Plaza) or over the phone at 845-451-4120.
You can pay a parking ticket at https://poughkeepsie.nsolutions.com, or through the mail by sending payment to City of Poughkeepsie ATTN: Parking Ticket Return 62 Civic Center Plaza Poughkeepsie NY 12601, or in person at City Hall (62 Civic Center Plaza).
Unfortunately at this time we are not offering refunds made at parking meters for overpayments.
Please call the parking department during office hours to receive help with the meters.
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Tuesday & Thursday: 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.
Please stop in to the Parking Department during office hours to receive a replacement. The cost for replacement is $10.
Please stop in to the Parking Department during office hours to receive a replacement. The cost for replacement is $2.25.
No, all permitting in our municipal lots is digital. No permit to hang or display.
You can apply for a Handicap Parking Permit at the City Chamberlains Office.
If your incident is an emergency, call 911. If non-emergency call 845-451-4000.
No, if a crime took place outside of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department please call the police department for that location.
A known suspect is when you or someone else knows the person or where to find the person who committed the crime or the license plate number of the vehicle the suspect(s) were in.
If you know your Cell Phone has been stolen, report it immediately by calling your wireless service and have the service deactivated.
If your Cell Phone is misplaced, it’s always a good idea to suspend your wireless service to protect against unauthorized usage.
If you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize the damage to your personal funds and financial accounts, as well as your reputation.
Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report the situation, whether Online, by telephone toll-free at 1-877-ID THEFT 877-438-4338 or TDD at 866-653-4261, or, by mail to:Consumer Response Center, FTC600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NWWashington, DC 20580
Contact all creditors with whom your name or identifying data have been fraudulently used. For example, you may need to contact your long-distance telephone company if your long-distance calling card has been stolen or you find fraudulent charges on your bill.
Contact all financial institutions where you have accounts that an identity thief has taken over or that have been created in your name but without your knowledge. You may need to cancel those accounts, place stop-payment orders on any outstanding checks that may not have cleared, and change your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, account, and Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Call the fraud units of the three principal credit reporting companies:
The proposed tree inventory and management plan are essential tools to help protect and enhance the city’s urban forest resources. The environmental, economic and social benefits of street trees in both residential and commercial districts are well documented. Street trees improve the livability of towns and cities in a number of ways including reducing stormwater runoff, increasing air quality, storing carbon, providing shade and reducing urban heat-island effects. Street trees have also been shown to increase property values, lower average electricity bills of surrounding households, and make a community more walkable and bikeable through the beautification of streets and lowering average driving speeds, making roadways safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
The GIS-based inventory will provide pertinent empirical data needed by the City’s Urban Tree Division, a subsidiary of the Department of Public Works Maintenance Division, which maintains the urban forest of over 12,000 city trees. The inventory will be conducted city-wide to document the location, species, tree size, condition, primary maintenance, requirements, and risk rating of all trees on city-owned property. The inventory will also note available tree planting spaces. A Community Forest Management Plan will then utilize this data to strategize and prioritize tree maintenance, planting, and removal. The development of the management plan will also enable the City to engage local residents, educate the public about the City’s urban forest, and foster community ownership over protecting and enhancing the City’s forest assets.
Yes, Poughkeepsies Water Treatment Facility produces drinking water that meets all the federal and state drinking water standards. In homes that have lead services and lead plumbing fixtures your plumbing may cause your tap water to exceed the drinking water standard. We have installed an additional chemical treatment at the treatment facility to reduce this potential and anticipate this problem will be eliminated.
All water produced at the Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility is taken from the Hudson River 1,000 feet from shore and 42 feet below the mean surface elevation.
The Poughkeepsies’ Water Treatment Facility is a conventional filtration plant.
Parts of the distribution system are old. Rust or sediments may have accumulated over the years and any changes in flow may disturb this material and cause discolored water. Entrained air may also cause the water to be “milky”. Typical events that may cause temporary discoloration of the water include:
Do not drink discolored water. Should this occur, run your cold water faucet for a period to clear the water. If the water remains discolored run the cold water in the bathtub at full rate for 5-10 minutes. If discoloration remains City of Poughkeepsie customers should call the Department of Public Works at 845-451-4111, Town of Poughkeepsie customers should call 845-462-6535.