MV Schoolboard President, Council President & Comptroller Discuss Tax Pilots & 2017 Budget at FCS Meeting

Mount Vernon – Mount Vernon City School District School Board President Lesly Zamor, City Council President Marcus A. Griffith and Comptroller Maureen Walker appeared at The Riverside Memorial Chapel for a Fleetwood Citizen’s Society meeting to discuss Tax Pilots, the 2017 Budget and more, with the residents on Tuesday, November 29th.

The three elected officials discussed taxes, the budget, empty homes in the city, the school system, and answered questions dealing with various issues brought up to those in attendance. Councilman André Wallace was also present and told the audience the background behind the NBC 4 NEW YORK “Million Dollar Mess in Mount Vernon” story.

“For those who were not able to make the FCS’s November 29th meeting, you missed a very lively meeting,” John Digiovanni of FCS informed BW. “At times the meeting was loud and it could have gone all night, but we overstayed our allotted time and had to leave.
The Riverside Memorial Chapel is very kind to let the Fleetwood Citizens Society use their facility between 7 and 9pm. The meeting went well passed 9:30.”

Mr. Digiovanni was kind enough to share some of the topics the speakers discussed with BW to further inform the community who were not able to attend the meeting that took place following the Thanksgiving weekend. I personally was out of town for spending time with family.

Below are some of the topics the speakers discussed:
School Board President Lesly Zamor spoke very passionately about how the city needs to better the Mount Vernon School System.
– He showed how the practice of awarding tax breaks for developers to build apartment buildings is bringing in a disproportionate amount of affordable housing.
– School Board President Zamor also pointed that the new approved buildings brings to Mount Vernon an additional 12,000 people which will not only increase the over populated city but will harm schools by over crowding them.
– Also, he said these tax breaks transfer the burden of taxes from the developer to current Mt. Vernon property owners and businesses.
– He pointed out the fact we have empty homes because buyers feel this is not the city that they wish to bring up their children. The cost per student is $18,000.
– School Board President Zamor believes the Citizens must regain political control and remove self-dealing politicians that occupy our local government.
– It is the first step to bring this city back from being considered the last place people want to move into, to being one of the most sought after places to live in New York State.
Council President Marcus A. Griffith had the misfortune to speak after Mr. Zamor. Council President Griffith has been a public servant for many years.
– But the crowd was not pleased, they believe that he is part of the reason the city is going down a path which they do not like.
– Council President Griffith pointed out how they do not understand and he thought given time they will see the City will be saved with the planning he and the Council are doing.
– The Councilman also told everyone how hard they are working for the betterment of Mount Vernon.
– He feels the City Council is concerned about the vacant land.
– He claims industry and manufacturing has left our city and they don’t see theaters, malls or retail coming to Mount Vernon.
– Council President Griffith told the audience that although he has a 9-to-5 job, he and the City Council are doing their best to make the city a better place to live and work.
Comptroller Maureen Walker was well received. She spoke about the 2017 Budget.
– Comptroller Maureen Walker told us the 2017 estimated budget was $106,992,370 which is $3,097,930 over the 2016 budget.with a tax increase of 1.58%
– She pointed out that the 1.58% increase is the lowest increase for over 20 years.
– This budget represents a fiscally sound and responsible budget and will keep Mount Vernon in a financially stable city.
– The new budget will raise taxes $61.80 per $10,000 assessed value. The assessed value is a faction of the market value.
– Comptroller Walker reminded us that the budget was approved by all three members of the Board of Estimate including Mayor Thomas.
Councilman André Wallace told the audience the background behind the Thursday, November 17th, NBC 4 NEW YORK “Million Dollar Mess in Mount Vernon” story.
– He reminded everyone that he was owed money before he was a councilman and the court agreed he should get paid.
– Councilman André Wallace said he does not wish to argue with Mayor Thomas, but as a representative of the citizens in the Mount Vernon he must and will do what is right for us.
– The Councilman said he will work hard to see this city grow in a constructive way.
The last question was put to the Council Members. They were asked if they would vote for a 1 year moratorium on new housing developments as Mr. Zamor requested.
Both Councilman André Wallace and Council President Marcus A. Griffith said yes.
City Council President Pro Tem Yohanna Edwards who was in the audiences stated it would have to be discussed.