Mount Vernon – Comptroller Deborah Reynolds blasted aspects of Mayor Richard W. Thomas “online” proposed budget for fiscal year of 2019, Thursday night, in the City Council Chamber.
Comptroller Reynolds discussed with the residents, what she felt were issue with the mayor’s elaborate effort to hijack the city’s Municipal Uniform Information System (MUNIS).
The comptroller said the city’s economy is on a cliffhanger. The risks are especially high, she said, with Mayor Thomas taking over the city’s MUNIS system.
#MUNIS is designed specifically to help municipalities handle all aspects of government operations with accuracy, transparency, and efficiency. Specifically, the comptroller uses it to approve and track purchase orders submitted by department heads for payment.
So how did the mayor hijack and evict Comptroller Deborah Reynolds from MUNIS.
Mayor Thomas teamed up with his IT department and somehow was able to remove the comptroller from MUNIS, leaving only the mayor to approve and add purchase orders.
So why are the bills not being paid? Since Mayor Thomas took over the system and removed Comptroller Reynolds from MUNIS, he is preventing the comptroller to review and pay the purchase orders – he set it up this way to make it look as if she’s not paying bills, according to Comptroller Reynolds in her Year End Financial Report, Thursday night (see video below).
So in an effort to stop Mayor Thomas from using MUNIS as his own Amazon account, the comptroller was forced to take legal action. She said she sued the Mayor and was added back into the MUNIS system. Corporation Council Lawrence Porcari is not representing Reynolds, according to the comptroller. She said she’s “conflicted out” and had to hire outside counsel, which was is being paid by the city taxpayers.
The comptroller, a frequent critic of the mayor provided no information to support her claims and no literature detailing the scope of the city’s finances for residents to take home.
While the Civil War In City Hall continues, its causing a lack of progress for our taxpayers and their families and failure to change the status quo is deeply concerning to one resident who said, “The crisis is growing, it is not receding.”
The city has seen an explosion of lawsuits over the last three years, with the number of settlements crossing $3 Million late this year. Most of the lawsuits within Mount Vernon stems from city leaders suing each other.
In the 2018 fiscal year, the comptroller claims the Mayor has spent $75 Million out of $117 Million. But the comptroller didn’t offer any explanation in writing supporting her claim.
The comptroller, in her presentation, questioned that lack of a cohesive policy, stressing that that the Mayor’s office have not been forthcoming with finances related to the Urban Renewal Agency (URA). She noted that the URA, controlled by the mayor, has not submitted a audit nor has he disclosed how he spent the URA’s money as required by law. This is holding up the comptroller from completing her budget.
She continued to say that the grant receivers thru the URA will loose funding, i.e., rent assistance, homeless funding etc.
According to Comptroller Reynolds, Moody’s, the city’s credit agency, contacted her Thursday and advised her that if the mayor doesn’t turn over the audit for the URA for 2016 and 2017 the city’s credit score will negatively drop and risk loosing state funding.
When Comptroller Reynolds took office she immediately implemented a new time card system – Kronos.
The benefits of Kronos includes:
✔Track and manage employee time and attendance to reduce payroll and leave inflation and manual errors
✔Minimize compliance risk by enforcing and tracking complex compliance requirements
After successfully launching this new system. Comptroller Reynolds laid out a process and directed all commissioners to direct there staff to start using Kronos. Then days later, the mayor’s law department sent out a letter to all department commissioners contradicting Reynolds directives and not use Kronos.
Which was surprising after Mayor Thomas supported the idea back in 2016. Kronos was approved by council and is legislation.
She also claims the mayor’s proposed budget will raise property taxes over 20% not 2% as he claims.
Reynolds criticism wasn’t just limited to the mayor’s “preliminary or online” budget. She discussed the mayors legal calendar that is filled with lawsuits and criminal cases related to the mayor.
80% of Reynolds speech drove home the mayor’s wrong doings. She recommended no holistic approach to save taxpayer money, she didn’t address the budget for 2019, and nothing on how she will push for economic development through investments in city businesses.
Mayor Thomas sharply rebukes the comptroller’s broad critique and some in City Hall shares the mayors wonderment at what exactly the Comptroller’s fighting for.
One resident felt the comptroller spent last night bashing the mayor and provided no specifics related to her claims. However, some feel this practice, this type if behavior fits in with the Mayor and it needs to be looked into.
At the end of her presentation, she took questions from the residents. One resident, Mount Vernon Public Library Trustee Malcolm Clark – who is close to former Comptroller Maureen Walker – questioned the current comptroller’s claims and became disruptive and was asked to leave by the Mount Vernon Police Department.
Some left the meeting feeling no different then they did when they arrived. Some were even nervous and scared after hearing the comptroller’s claims that the city will go bankrupt in May of 2019 if no drastic measures are taken. Which leaves the city with five months of funding.
BW contacted the comptroller’s office Friday morning – to get a better explanation of the $75 Million, she was unavailable for comment.
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Video courtesy of Jamie Pessin Productions