MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Political strife continues to reign supreme in Mount Vernon, with the mayor now accusing a top city official of attempting a “fiscal coup.”
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas is claiming that City Comptroller Maureen Walker attempted a budget coup, by “trying to sneak on the proposed 2018 budget for a vote without any prior notice to the public or (his) office” during a special Board of Estimates and Contracts meeting on Friday.
Earlier this year, Thomas proposed a near $120 million budget that would see increases to civil services and raises for members of his office. The spending proposal represents a 4.87 percent property tax increase for homeowners, less than $20 per month on average per household.
“I am extremely disappointed in outgoing Comptroller Maureen Walker’s action today. She and the City Council have repeatedly refused my office’s requests for a discussion and open dialogue on our budget proposal,” he said. “Two monologues will never make a dialogue. It is a disservice to the people of Mount Vernon to continue the polarizing conduct which is why my office remains open to facilitate budget discussions with all stakeholders.”
Walker could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday morning. Thomas refused to vote on the budget Friday, saying he would “review it as a point of order,” while Walker insisted the budget be voted on at the meeting, calling the mayor “despondent and unrealistic.”
Citing the city’s reported $20 million fund balance, Thomas said that Mount Vernon “has the money, it’s time (the city) has the services.”
“The budget process for our city must be transparent to protect the taxpayers,” Thomas said. “The budget package submitted concentrated on public safety, quality of life, and complying with federal mandates.
“It is a budget that charts a new fiscal course for our city, a course that the voters have made clear they want, to avoid ‘significant monetary penalty’ by the Justice Department. The political ploy that Walker and the Council are again attempting is designed to serve their own selfish interests.”
In the past few weeks , Thomas has been at odds with the City Council and other city officials over Memorial Field , the police department , and a $70,000 check for a luxury SUV. Thomas also recently came under fire for a trip to Dubai that reportedly may have cost the city upwards of $10,000.
“President John F. Kennedy warned that we cannot live in the past because it imperils the future,” Thomas said.
“We warned about the tax threats related to the pollution in our waterways and the need to collect millions in secret loans made during former Mayor Davis' and outgoing Comptroller Walker’s tenure. Yet a clean environment and paying back the taxpayers are apparently not priorities shared by Walker and the City Council.”
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