NEWBURGH – With the city manager’s proposed 2020 Newburgh city budget reflecting 12 to 13 police officer layoffs and 11 to 12 firefighter cuts just to balance the spending plan, the city council will have to make some tough decisions in the next several weeks.
Mayor Torrance Harvey said they hope to restore some, but not all of the proposed layoffs, but in the end, the city will survive.
“Last year we were facing some high increases in taxes and some cuts, but we are going to work. We will go line by line in this city budget looking for errors, looking for ways that we can be creative and innovative,” he said.
City officials agree the key is to increase the tax base through additional economic development, a task that is ongoing.
Harvey said they are also considering a one-percent payroll tax on non-residents who work in the city and will explore the possibility of a regional fire department similar to what Beacon City Mayor Randy Casale proposed in Southern Dutchess County a week ago.
That is not something that would occur overnight.
In the meantime, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said the police department and the DA’s office have suspended the GIVE (Gun Involved Violence Elimination) initiative because it would be difficult to enforce with fewer cops on the street.
Another issue facing the city is it is receiving federal funds through a SAFER grant for additional firefighters. Some of that funding may have to be paid back to Washington.