Mount Vernon – Comptroller Maureen Walker and City Council Members met with Mayor Richard W. Thomas to address their concerns in his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The Mayor’s budget proposed an $8 million increase in salaries and an appropriation of $7 million from the City’s Fund Balance to help balance the budget. Comptroller Walker and City Council Members were alarmed at this proposal and knew that it was not sustainable.
Although Mayor Thomas did not incorporate many of the recommended changes into his proposal, Comptroller Walker’s and Council Members’ concerns were addressed after the Board of Estimate and Contract approved a budget that is fiscally responsible for taxpayers of the City of Mount Vernon. Comptroller Walker stated, “This budget is exactly what the taxpayers have been asking for. This budget exemplifies efficient government spending instead of the initially proposed, robust government overspending…overspending that our taxpayers would ultimately pay for in the following years”. Mayor Thomas’ proposal to use $7 million of the City’s Fund Balance was fiscally irresponsible and demonstrates his lack of understanding in financial and accounting matters. Generally, $2 to $3 million is appropriated from the City’s Fund Balance to balance the budget. Although $11 million are in reserves as of 2014, it is assigned or reserved for mandatory expenditures such as Tax Certioraris, Worker’s Compensated Absences, Contractual Labor Settlements, and Prepaid Expenses. To designate such a large portion of the City’s Fund Balance would prove to be disastrous for Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond as it would take, at a minimum, four (4) years to replenish that amount.
The Comptroller and City Council consider Mayor Thomas’ proposed budget to contain unrealistic revenues. Mount Vernon would not receive $500 thousand on gain on sales since its property stock is dwindling. Council President Marcus A. Griffith stated, “We were able to settle on a tax rate increase of 1.82% and this was accomplished without padding the budget with unrealistic revenue estimates and by using only a sustainable amount of our City’s Fund Balance.”
Councilwoman Roberta Apuzzo, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Finance and Planning said, “This goes to show that when our city government works together, our citizens are the ultimate winners.”
Comptroller Walker and City Council Members say they collectively are proud to have approved a budget that is fiscally responsible for taxpayers of the city…a budget that will not cause exorbitant tax increases in the years in the future. Councilman Andre Wallace proclaimed, “With a proper budget in place, we can certainly win the future!”
For more information on the budget approved by the Board of Estimate and Contract’s budget, please contact Comptroller Maureen Walker at 914.665.2304.
In response to the approval of the budget Mayor Thomas send a robocall Wednesday night to residents alerting the community that services and programs are going to be cut, taxes will be increased, urging the community to come out and voice their concerns at the town hall meeting on Monday November 7th at the Dole Center.
Councilman Wallace insist they did not cut any services and the residents can see for themselves by requesting a copy of the budget in the City Clerk’s office anytime after Monday. He also told BW, the budget will be posted online as well and BW will get a copy to share with our readers.
In 2015, Mayor Elect Thomas also sent out a similar robocall informing residents of a double digit increase in the 2016 budget.