Mount Vernon – In a letter to the City Council on Wednesday from Lisa Reynolds, the chief examiner of the state agency’s Local Government and School Accountability division, the state Comptroller’s Office announced it will be auditing the City of Mount Vernon. The focus of this audit will center around internal controls.
Since taking office in January, Mayor Patterson-Howard has been reaching out to the NYS Comptroller office requesting an audit of the city’s finances. Mayor Patterson-Howard has requested an audit of all city finances, this includes the Industrial Development Agency (IDA), Urban Renewal Agency (URA) and Board of Water Supply.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and Council President Lisa A. Copeland hailed the news of the audit.
“Time’s up for fiscal mismanagement and corruption. We welcome an audit of the city’s finances, including the IDA, URA and questions around Board of Water Supply funds,” Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard. “We have grave concerns about the lack of transparency and cooperation from the Mount Vernon Comptrollers’ office. Her continued failure to transfer monies from city accounts to the URA paid to the city by HUD for the use of the URA is troubling. These actions are crippling the agency’s ability to make timely rent payments for services of our most vulnerable residents and fails to satisfy our contractual payments to community-based partners who provide critical services to Mount Vernon. We welcome an audit from the NYS Comptroller’s office, the citizens of Mount Vernon deserve an accounting of each dollar spent. We look forward to taking the necessary steps to address corrective actions that arise from the audit.”
Both the Mayor and Council President have criticized Reynolds for a lack of transparency that Copeland called “alarming.”
“The lack of transparency from Comptroller Reynolds has been alarming, her inability to work with the council and administration to close the audits are a critical concern. We are encouraged by the audit of the City of Mount Vernon from NYS Comptroller DiNapoli’s office and stand ready to assist.”
The City of Mount Vernon has not been audited by the State since 2015. The City of Mount Vernon will finally be audited by the State Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office. Comptroller Reynolds says she happy about the audit in a statement of her own.
“As Comptroller I am happy that I can provide the State Comptroller with the City of Mount Vernon’s financials. I have already provided the Cities Auditors. The City of Mount Vernon’s unaudited financials and await their arrival so Mount Vernon can be stated as in compliance.
FYI – The Urban Renewal Agencies audit has not been completed for the year 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, because of this the City of Mount Vernon has lost it’s credit rating and the Mayor (Shawyn Patterson Howard) was the Planning Administrator who worked for Former Mayor Richard Thomas and failed to complete the audit before she left.
One of the reason’s former Comptroller Maureen Walker could not file with the State in 2016 or 2017 was because the Urban Renewal Agency under the former Thomas Administration failed to provide the financials, therefore she could not file the City of Mount Vernon’s financials.
The political infighting continues as mayor and comptroller traded accusations – at a recent public hearing on the city budget – about why audits have not been completed for the Urban Renewal Agency from as far back as 2016. Moody’s Investors Service, often referred to as Moody’s, a bond credit rating company stripped the city of its credit rating last year, blocking Mount Vernon from borrowing money ever since.
There are grave concerns surrounding payroll, accusations about millions in unclaimed grants and federal aid including $1,900,000 dollars for street repaving.
One thing they both appear to agree on is the need for the audit and say they welcome it. While that is all the seem to be able to agree on, as both sides are pointing the finger at the other. The truth will come out as the State Comptroller’s office begins their audit.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story.