“It’s a new day in Mount Vernon,” Mayor Richard W. Thomas tells BW. “We are presenting a budget that uses existing resources wisely and doesn’t spend foolishly. We are investing in infrastructure and we are investing in human capital. People are tired of potholes in the road; they are tired of broken streetlights, we know they want a stronger, more robust level of services from City Hall. Best of all, our budget comes in under the tax cap positioning homeowners to receive a tax rebate of $500 per household.”
Mount Vernon – Mayor Richard Thomas, presented his preliminary budget proposal for the 2017 Fiscal Year for the City of Mount Vernon, Friday, September 16th. Coined “The Thomas Budget” by the mayor, in his preliminary proposal, he proudly proclaims his 2017 budget will come in under the “tax cap”, make the City of Mount Vernon eligible for a New York State Property Tax Rebate for the first time, invest in human capital, equipment and infrastructure and strengthen public safety and support our dedicated uniform service personnel.
“Every year, the City of Mount Vernon has overtaxed its people and increased the funds in its coffers,” Mayor Thomas says. “The city’s savings account has increased while taxpayers have been forced to cut costs and pinch pennies. In 2013, there was $9.6 million in the fund, that figured increased to $12 million in 2014; $17.4 million in 2015; and we estimate the 2016 reserve level will top $19 million. It’s shameful to tax the money right out of people’s pockets and stash it away, leaving our infrastructure and core services struggling.”
“Mayor Thomas’ $500 Rebate Statement Does Not Pass The Reality Test,” – Comptroller Maureen Walker
The Comptroller who has been vocal about the Thomas Budget, strongly disagrees with the Mayor and made her thought clear at the Wednesday, September 28th City Council Meeting.
The 2017 proposed budget by Mayor Thomas promised the homeowners a rebate of $500 based on the tax cap. Stated below is the research done by the Comptroller’s Office on the Mayor’s promise which indicates that his statement is simply untrue and misleading to the general public. The Comptroller’s Office continues to review and analyze line items presented in the Mayor’s proposed 2017 budget and will keep the City Council informed of our findings.
Fact: Mount Vernon City (local government)) property owners should not expect to receive a rebate from New York State for the 2017 fiscal year based on the 2017 budget despite promises from Mayor Thomas.
Fact: The tax freeze program was in effect for local governments for Fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
Fact: There is no local government tax freeze credit for the 2017 fiscal year.
Fact: Even if the tax freeze credit were still in effect, the City of Mount Vernon local government would not have satisfied the requirements for the NYS property tax rebate.
Mayor Thomas exhibits gross incompetence and a lack of leadership for publicly promising a rebate to homeowners as a result of the proposed 2017 city budget. Misleading the general public on an issue such as this is heartless and cruel. Once again, Mayor Thomas exhibits a total lack of understanding of basic and simple accounting and financial policies and procedures.
As the City Comptroller, I am requesting that Mayor Thomas publicly withdraw the statement made in reference to the promised receipt of this rebate.
“Just on the surface I can see so much wrong,” Walker said of Thomas’ budget, which she first saw Tuesday morning. “I teach a finance class and I wish some of you could come to that class.”
City Council President Marcus Griffith also got his first look at the budget Tuesday morning and said he didn’t see much surplus in the city’s reserve fund to accommodate Thomas’ spending increases and low tax-rate increase.
“He’s got a lot of work to do to prove the numbers he’s arrived at,” Griffith said. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
“The tax rebates that people are getting in other municipalities generally do not reach anywhere near $500, so that is a little bit of a concern to me to put out that our taxpayers would receive that much,” said Councilwoman Roberta Apuzzo.
Apuzzo said that she sits on county boards with other local officials and the tax rebates she hears about range from $120-$130.
To his opposition Mayor Thomas says its a New Day!
“Our objective is to fulfill the promise for transparency,” said Thomas, who laid out a timeline that would allow residents to attend public hearings before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Mayor Thomas will host a 2017 Budget Town Hall to discuss the budget and answer questions Thursday, September 29th in the City Council Chambers at 6:00 P.M.