After every budget, the six Republican councilmen who control the Town of Poughkeepsie council praise themselves as fiscal conservatives fighting for the taxpayers. Yet every year our taxes go up.

There are several reasons why our taxes went up (MTA taxes, state mandates, insurance costs, newly imposed unfunded charge-backs by our Republican County Legislators). These increases are beyond the council’s purview.

However, salaries are completely within the board’s oversight authority. The Town of Poughkeepsie Republican council members not only vote on contracts and raises but they negotiate them. This year, town salaries increased more than $1 million over last year.

It is hypocritical for the Republican councilmen to lament that these are hard times and that residents are being taxed out of our homes, when they are the cause of the problem. These are hard times and yet the Poughkeepsie Town Board approved a $33 million budget, an increase of 6.2 percent, a homestead increase of 7.9 percent and a commercial rate increase of 15.9 percent. Despite what our councilmen say, an increase is not a cut.

It now appears that the Republican councilmen will continue to use the same twisted logic that supports increasing our taxes as justification for privatizing the sewer district. The argument that privatizing will save the taxpayers money is ludicrous. Most town residents are not affected by the sewer district, and those who are pay extremely low rates for sewer as a separate utility fee, not a tax.

Gary Levine
Chairman, Town of Poughkeepsie Democratic Committee