Saturday, April 11, 2009


The list of “Non-Profit" Organizations that operate in the City of Kingston has long been the focus of the Common Council; especially around Budget time in late fall. During my second term in office, Alderman Chris Gonyea and I set out to restructure the refuse collection process in the city.

With Chris running the meetings we had DPW staff and key personnel from local groups interested in helping with the effort. The Reform Committee met throughout the year, but little was hammered out because the task of changing the collection operation in DPW hit strong resistance. To give him credit where due; Gonyea did try.

Fast forward to 2007, Alderman Teetsel and I engaged in another attempt to make sweeping changes in refuse collection. Teetsel had little time to address these issues before dealing with family issues. Leaving myself, Larry Bergoti, Dave Wolff and others to review what had been left from the prior attempts.

By the time our dozen meetings came to a close, we had an inch thick document of changes that we would offer the Council's Laws & Rules Committee. Very little was acted on. I know, you're shocked.

We did achieve a fee structure for TV, monitor screens and electronics as well as changing the method of public access to the transfer station on Rt 32. But that was it. Shortly after that, Dave retired, Larry moved on in frustration and the slim chance of getting “Non Profits” contributing to the cities tipping fees was lost. Until Now!

In recent conversation with current Alderman Polacco regarding "Non Profits” and the attempt to bring them in, I did a quick review of the past efforts and he suggested just focusing on just those groups and see what other towns got away with regarding their legal limits. I said, you can talk to Corp Counsel and get another initiative started. Maybe something changed in the state.

We have long understood that there is a great deal of property in the City of Kingston that is not taxed. Almost 45% to be precise. Mixed in that figure is all the property consisting of City, County, State and Federal Property, School and Library property as well as Churches, Grave Yards, Jails & Hospitals, UPAC, City managed housing and all the Parks. You end up with a small portion of property that makes up the focus of this refuse collection proposal. About 3% actually represents social organizations.

Those institutions include the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA & YWCA, Family of Woodstock, RUPCO, Trolley & Maritime Museum, Catskill Mt Rail beds, Queens Galley, LGBTQ Center, and a host of others that provide an unmeasurable contribution to the fabric of our city.

Once we understood that the group that we were looking to bring in, was small, not that financially burdensome and provided such intrinsic services, the push for change in refuse collection shifted back to a city wide bag system...hoping to encourage recycling efforts there.

Steve Noble and staff, with the support of Alderman Reynolds presented the latest effort under the program: RecycleBank. Which, on the face, seemed an ideal concept. The Council once again had many meetings on the subject of changing the methods of collecting refuse. This time, the Unions came in and offered their opinions. Somehow, the project slipped into limbo as the budget talks consumed the conversation.

Let it be known, Steve & Julie Noble will be presenting the General Government Committee with a new refined approach to bringing “Not for Profits” into the fiscal contribution pool by offering a Pay As You Throw option.

I am looking forward to what Steve has to say. I have been a strong advocate for recycling enforcement and have even petitioned our state lawmakers to advance the Bigger Bottle Bill to help in this effort. I encourage members of the public who are interested in this issue to join us MAY 21 at City Hall at 7pm.


Anonymous said...

Getting people to recycle should be mandatory for everyone, for us to focus on just the Not-For-Profits seems prejudiced and a case of selective enforcement. We all need to step up, including the apartment buildings all over the city.

Landlords enforce nothing. Why cant we fine those who don't recycle? That would bring the funding you desire most while pushing people to do the right thing through their wallets.

Anonymous said...

Recycle Bank was to cumbersome to manage. The big bins on wheels, the limited access to the street and who would calibrate those scales every week? If they were handled as rough at the city equipment is today, we'd have to hire a scales manager to keep them up to snuff. It just wouldn't be cost effective. Glad it didn't happen.

Anonymous said...

The Council should be commended for seeking any means to lower our tipping fees at UCRRA. We spend enough money in trash collection and disposal that if the public did the right thing without the threat of a fine, we could afford to keep the beach open all week. Its all up to you people!

Anonymous said...

First off, get KHA to stop being its usual authoritarian idiot self and simply MARK the recycle bins appropriately(the ink fades over time). This saves DPW crew from having to sort them due to poor management of these bins. Nobody under the authority of the authority can ever get through to the authority any more than anyone under another religious authority could ever get through there, so the usual means of communication here, ie, the elected officials talk to them, would seem to portend a greater chance of success at achieving anything appropriate whether in this issue or any.
Admittedly some people will not recycle anyway. Fining them for this seems to me mainly to continue avoiding issues at DPW--which seem in some definable sense to be on the rise recently.
Taxing nonprofits presents the problem of how to formulate such a tax(by assessment--which has no current internal logic-- by average number of attendees? or are their books going to be demanded open by the city?). Furthermore, as most elected officials are affiliated with one denomination, what will that portend for other denominations and synogogues and such? Answering that one will be a political nightmare and tend toward, as 1:29 dances around,discrimination, I predict. Stay tuned;this is continuing to get more fun by the second. The can of worms has not yet been opened, but it's always a fun time when it is. Polacco wants to do the right thing but naturally is unable to do so because he will never be able to formulate a tax structure that is fair to all nonprofits--nor can anyone.
Oh, and the brilliant parking meter idea hopefully has paid off in net increased revenues? Where do things stand there?
In the end, it is really not as much about the money with DPW--it is about how the dept. is arranged and run, an issue which the council and the mayor has neglected for these last bazillions of years, and the conditions of the roads this year seem to demonstrate that, which was a deficiency in the aftermath of primarily a single storm.
The economic crunch that the mayor complains of in his seeming logic of excusing the desultory behavior within DPW of late has more to do with mortgage bankers and what they did in recent years that messed up the economy of the entire world. To punish the majority of the people for this wouldn't be fair but moreover seems a waste of time that could be better spent tackling other quality of life issues, economic development, and other positive activities, which as we know, are being done and staying with that is the right formula.
"I am in favor of separating church and state. Both of these have already messed us up enough separately, so in my mind combining them would mean certain death." ---George Carlin

Tom The Liberal said...


Please..... You are going to burden
the non-profits? You are going to make organizations that help our city
out do what?

Come on Mike.... You think Polacco
has any idea of anything? You have seen him in action. Its a joke.

You are better then that.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,

In case you haven't noticed, the not-for-profit organizations utilize the "lion's share" of city services without having to pay for it. It's about time they pay their share.

Yes, they are tax-exempt, but they should pay for city services like trash removal (I count upwards of 20+ bags from some of these agencies like Family of Woodstock). What about fire/EMS service? (I see a fire truck/ambulance head to one of the Ulster ARC homes on a weekly basis). What about police protection? The police are a regular fixture at the Family of Woodstock shelter on Green Street.

How much trash do I put out? 1 bag per week.

How many times does the fire department come to my home? Never in the past 5 years.

How many times do the police have to come to my home? Never

Not-for-profits are destroying this city. They are a part of the community and therefore should pay for the services that they use and abuse!

Tom The Liberal said...

To 538

Let me give you some insight

In tough economic times we as a
community need the 'non for profits' now more then ever. They are the soup kitchens the homeless
shelters for people that have been abused.

Take the LBGTQ Center in uptown. Now as someone who has an investment in a store in the area
my business has gone up around 8
percent. Maybe you have something against the center. But, my profit's have gone up. Oh and yes
I pay taxes.

One council members I believe does not pay propery taxes. I do.

And yes KFD has come to my house, to save the life of my father.

Do your homework son.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tom:

First, I'm not your son--thank God.

Second, I never said anything about the LGTBQ--they are not the problem.

The problem is the oversaturation of non-profits in Kingston, which is why our taxes are so high. Check out Rich Cahill's blog for the facts and figures on why Kingston is among the highest taxes municipalities in New York.

Non-profits should start paying for city services. Then perhaps the city can purchase the ladder truck that the fire department desperately needs. Maybe the police department can purchase additional vehicles and upgrade equipment which they too depserately need.

As a city, "we's broke!" Why else are we cancelling major events, closing our beach, and laying off people. The money just isn't there. I, for one, am sick of all the not for profits getting a free ride. They are part of the community, so be a part, and pay for the services they enjoy as well as the rest of us.

The fire and police departments in Kingston are top-notch in my mind and many others as well, so don't put words in my mouth!

If the non-profits 'pony up' and pay for the services which they use more than the average taxpayer, then perhaps the city won't need to beg, borrow, and steal to provide the services we all may need one day.

I did my homework, why don't you open your eyes and closed mind as well.

Tom The Liberal said...


1112 Let me break it down for you one more time........ I used the
LGBTQ Center... It is uptown they are a non for profit. People from
New Paltz Woodstock,Beacon and even
NYC come to our city, maybe they would not have come. They go into one of the many independent shops in the area. They see something they like, they buy it.


Same with UPAC I may own a small coffee shop...Or open a wine bar in the area....UPAC is also non profit. They come to see a world class act. They come in for a drink and I make money. Thus I am
putting people to work and I pay city tax. Maybe people will go downtown and even spend more money.

It is what you call commerce. More money will come in in taxes then you could imagine. This is somewhat of a throw back to the parking meters that Mike had put in
all over the city.....And, If you check that the revenue projections were way of base... [Sorry Mike}.

So what the city needed to do is what Bob Senor suggested and was to
'bite the bullet' and make the needed cuts. Leave the non for profits alone.... Who some ...Not all bring in money.

You know you are not a bad guy. Why dont you contact the local
City GOP and run for Alderman?
You have as much knowledge as the
2 members they have now.

Mike Madsen said...

No offence taken on the parking meter comment. The numbers were base on the number of spaces used per day had the users actually paid the meters for their time. We are finding that most of these folks are taking the chance of not paying the quarter since we only have two ticket writers for the whole city. My numbers are way off because I had faith in our citizens (and some Aldermen)to do the right thing.

Anonymous said...

I attended a council meeting back in 2003, when Bart Robbins and Paul Purcell both spoke. The subject? Get the recycling out of the trash. If we had listened then we would be ahead of the game. If you listen to the union reps and the members who pick up the trash you would know everyone who recycles and who doesn't.

Anonymous said...

This city is monopolized by non-profit and/or tax exempt foundations and charities... and I believe that has a LOT to do with both our employment (lack of paid positions) and (unbalanced, to say the least) taxation and revenue problems...

And, although there is apparently one poster here stating that some of the non-profits have brought his or her establishment increased business...

There are a whole LOT of other businesses that have closed up shop (or are barely surviving...) - and thus, apparently, weren't graced with "same"...

Garbage pickup...


Only a small part of the HUGE constellation - to be sure!

UPAC needs money from the taxpayers / government to buy air conditioners????????

How about "grandma?" [Can she afford an air conditioner... or to even attend a show at UPAC?]

"Save Them Now" needs money to hire more ex-cons? [To potentially do some repair work on "grandma's" house? (NO THANKS!)]

Did you know there are apparently a couple of golf courses and yacht clubs in Ulster County (just to name a couple of "you have got to be kidding!" examples...) that claim (in full or in part) a tax exempt status [Can "grandma" afford to go "stroke a few" or set sail on the beautiful Hudson?]

And churches...

Has anyone counted up just how many properties in the City of Kingston ("Holy Smokes!") are listed as being tax-exempt [some churches own multiple properties] for "religous" reasons...

Including almost every parking lot in uptown Kingston [which means "grandma" (and a whole bunch of employees and business owners...) had better have that quarter (or two or five or ten...) on hand every Monday through Saturday!]

We (as a city) have got (in this area...) some SERIOUS PROBLEMS (screwed up priorities and fiscal messes) on our hands...

With garbage pickup (a starting point, at least) being just one tiny, tiny piece of the puzzle...

[When is the last time a business enterprise in the City of Kingston (see yesterday's "Daily Freeman") got offered a FREE building?]


I hope (at the very least) that a homeless shelter gets in on that last deal... because its looking like we (the tax PAYERS in the City of Kingston) might (all hail the not-for-profits!) be needing [Got your bags packed "grandma?" The house has gotta' go...] a lot more shelters (Perhaps "grandma" could sleep at UPAC?) pretty soon!


Anonymous said...

each non for profit should at least pay some sort of user fee,i agree that some of these groups are needed now more than ever, but i think some of them are just milking the cow

garyamort said...

Why not have a pay as you go plan for people who want to take garbage or recyclables to the dump themselves and not wait for collection.

To drop off stuff at the dump, your charged for 500 lbs(24$) whether or not you have that much.

I admit it, I'm terrible at remembering what day is trash day. But if I could buy bags from the town hall, fill em up and drop them off myself, I'd do it.

Start with a voluntary plan that lets people drop off themselves, and then expand it over time as needed.

I'd also be interested in seeing facts on this lists of what non profits would be affected. One person includes religious groups, others seem to think all non profits in the city consist of just the ones they don't like, another takes out all the groups you can't touch[churches, city government, etc] and ends up with a small percentage. Post the info, please!

Interesting fact about parking meters, I refused to come to Kingston after moving to Saugerties last year because of them. As a former NYC resident, parking meters mean 1 quarter per 15 minutes of time, and hefty parking tickets for expired meters[times of operations seem designed for tickets, ie starting at 6/7am down there] - I must have driven past downtown kingston stores that looked interesting, but no way was I paying 50 cents just to see if the Catskil Art Supply store was as interesting as it looked. Or risking a 125$ ticket if I lost track of time. Yeah, I know that is not how the meters in Kingston work, but with everything else to see and do in Ulster, I'll assume they work like they do in the city and simply avoid Kingston altogether than risk a ticket. Now that I'm here, I see their 5 cents, 10 cents, etc and much more time[still, 9 to 5 is bad. If I'm up from the city, I want to sleep late and relax. Not rush. 10 to 7pm would be fine, but 9 to 5? Eh, I'll go someplace else] But I imagine most people from the city will do as I did, drive on by rather than bother to find out.

Anonymous said...

The parking meters in Saugerties are fifty cents/hour; just like Kingston.

garyamort said...

Yeah they are, but personally I'm not all that concerned about enticing people from Saugerties to come down and visit Kingston.

I think there is more bang for the buck in encouraging individuals from NYC to come to the Catskills on the weekends and during the week for vacations and daytrips.

And it is their mindset that I can speak to. I see a meter, I don't park to check out the area, period. It's not worth my time to find out what the posted hours are, what the fine is for not paying, and how much it costs. I assume NYC rates, 25 cents and per 8 or 15 minutes, charged pretty much all the time, and traffic cops itching to write tickets and generate revenue.

Sure, its "my loss" in that I bypassed a lot of really cool stores in downtown kingston for half a year due to this assumption.

I also avoided downtown Saugerties for about a month after moving up here initially for the same reason. Given a choice between going to the Muddy Cup and feeding the meter 2 or 3 dollars[remember, ASSUMPTION] vs driving to B&N and parking for free. No brainer, Kingston B&N got my business. By the time I found out the meters were cheaper than I expected and no tickets being handed out left and right, my habit was formed, B&N.

The purpose of meters, to my mind, should not be revenue. That is just gonna annoy the heck out of the very people you want to take a daytrip here. They should be to discourage long term parking by residents on streets frequented by tourists. IE you don't want the guy living upstairs from the coffee shop leaving his beat up car parked in front of it, you want that spot open for the tourist to conveniently park. As such, hours of operation should be prominently visible along with the cost[5cents/8 minutes or whatever - people can infer that means dimes and quarters are accepted as well. Unlike the city where often you have to use a credit card!] and hours should match the business hours[stores don't open till late 9/early 10] Just MHO