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September 17, 2014
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Port Jervis revenue down

Mayor Kelly Decker
TRR photo by Any Tikka

By Anya Tikka
August 6, 2014

PORT JERVIS, NY — Mayor Kelly B. Decker had a tough message—but also words of hope—to the city residents in the recent town meeting. He said, “Our revenues are down as people are not paying their taxes and other fees, as well as our county sales tax share is down by an extreme number. That reduces our revenues, while our expenses stay the same. I have met with our department of public works and our police, and I want to assure people that they are staying well within their budget, right on their target; but we are going to come out with a deficit, unless something drastically changes with the county tax share.”

He continued, “We are trying to stay within the tax cap of 2%; the city has come close to that. I have indicated that I want to stay below that cap.”

The state has started a program to cut taxes in which, if a town stays within the 2% cap this year and next year, and also comes to an agreement with a municipality nearby to share services, there will be rebates to the citizens—of an unknown amount.

“Of course citizens want that rebate check,” Decker acknowledged, vowing to make every effort to stay within the 2%, while saying the rebate amount is unknown. He continued, “If not, it will mean major cuts, causing major problems—[unless we can] think of alternative ways to bring in revenue.”

Decker explained all the things city taxes are used for. “Police and fire departments, public works, parks, recreation, senior programs, garbage, sewer and water are all funded from your taxes.” He continued, “It’s paying for personnel. It’s getting things done, getting you fresh water like the clarifier in the infiltration plant that’s still being paid for, fire trucks, police protection, parks, beautification of the city—the value you get from your tax is extremely high.”

Decker said he doesn’t want to cut personnel or programs, and is for raising more revenue instead.

One way is to start to charge for sewer and garbage separately, he said. They are now included in the tax bill. Another charge the city is considering is adding a fine to nuisance calls to the police or fire departments.

“We would do this if it’s abuse,” he said. Decker said the emergency services get between four and five nuisance calls per month from about six buildings in town.

“If somebody plays music loud, and the department gets called the fourth time when they have already been there and issued tickets, now you have a fee added on to the total,” he explained. The calls are considered a false alarm.