Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Council approves next year’s city budget

Average homeowner will pay additional $68 annually

Peekskill’s Common Council voted unanimously to  accept the city’s 2024 budget at Monday’s meeting, raising taxes by 3.5 percent. Mayor Vivian McKenzie and Councilman Rob Scott were not present. Deputy Mayor Patricia Riley took over the mayor’s role. 

At the two public hearings held at the beginning of the meeting, residents were given the opportunity to comment on overriding the tax cap and the 2024 city budget. One individual spoke against both topics, and another emailed a comment regarding the budget which was put into the record but not read to the public. 

City Comptroller Toni Tracy gave council members a presentation regarding the tax cap and budget. According to her presentation, a NYS Tax Cap-compliant 2024 budget would have limited the city to a $419,676 tax levy increase, or a 1.37 percent increase in the tax rate – less than 2 percent. This increase is $233,356 less than needed to balance the budget, even including a $2.1 million use of fund balance which is similar to a savings account. 

The required total is $653,032 to balance the budget. The proposed budget would raise the tax rate an additional 1.25 percent for a 2.632 percent increase relative to the adopted 2023 budget. This would be a 3.5 percent increase over the tax levy of last year – taking the total from $18.4 million to $19.1 million and the tax rate from $289.14 to $296.72.  The average taxpayer with a single-family home would pay an additional $68.26 annually, or about $5.69 per month.

“In theory, if the city did not override the cap, we would be using another $233,356 of fund balance, which is not advisable – we’re trying to hold back on that as much as possible.” said Tracy.

Tracy would go on to present the 2023 budget summary. In her presentation, she states that in 2023 the city of Peekskill budgeted $47.6 million in revenue, with $2.5 million of that in budgeted appropriated fund balance. The total revenue budget without the appropriation is $45.1 million. The projected actual revenue was $46 million leaving the city better than budgeted by $902,979. Compare that to the 2023 budgeted expenses, which were $47.6 million. The projected actual expenses were $48.22 million, which is $578,491 more than budgeted.

The 2024 Common Council Budget is $51 million. A graph used in Tracey’s presentation is shown above featuring expenditures by function. To view Tracy’s presentation and get an in depth look at both the tax cap and 2024 budget, click here

City Manager Report

Prior to the public hearings, City Manager Matt Alexander gave council members an update regarding the city’s community kitchen pilot program. The program is a collaboration between the city’s Youth Bureau, Senior Citizens and the Parks and Recreation departments.

According to Alexander, for the past few weeks, a group of at-risk youths, ages 18-24, have been taking culinary classes in the Neighborhood Center dining room and kitchen. The participants in the program have been learning the ins and outs of the food service industry with mentoring provided by credible messengers. The credible messengers brought in for this program are from Lead by Example Reverse the Trend Inc, a non-profit organization, headquartered in Harlem, that has worked with city youth before

During the program, participants met with individuals who have experience developing and running a business, both in the city and outside. The group’s training will be showcased next week when they host a dinner at the Neighborhood Center. Whether they chose to continue in the culinary world or not, all participants will leave with an accredited food handling certificate when they graduate next week. 

Alexander told council members that the city hopes to bring back the program in the future but its success will need to be evaluated first. He added that the city could also look at different job trainings to introduce youth to.

Pugsley Park Construction Less Than Budgeted 

Council members moved to accept a resolution authorizing the City Manager to approve change orders for Bid 2023-002 “Enhancements to Pugsley Park” resulting in expected savings of $57,000 to the project. 

Work on the Main Street side of Pugsley Park. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

Last week, City Planner Peter Erwin spoke before the council regarding savings to the project. According to Erwin and the memo submitted to the city, Con-Tech Construction Technology Inc (the company contracted to do improvements at Pugsley) and the city agreed that the cost of electrical service and lighting items can be reduced by substituting certain lengths of rigid metal conduit with PVC schedule 40 conduit. In addition, both sides agreed that the cost of water service items can be reduced by substituting four inches of ductile iron pipe with 1 inch of K-type copper line. Con-Tech also received revised pricing for the garbage and recycling receptacles. 

Work continues to be underway at Pugsley Park.


About the Contributor
Jeffrey Merchan
Peekskill native Jeffrey Merchan is a 2022 graduate of Peekskill High School. He is the Collegiate Journalist at Peekskill Herald, funded by a grant from the DJ McManus Foundation. He is currently enrolled at Westchester Community College where he is studying journalism. As the inaugural recipient of the McManus grant, he will be covering city government, schools and feature stories with a focus on Peekskill’s growing Hispanic community.