MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas said he is “deeply concerned about the city’s fiscal future” as it faces “potentially hefty fines” from the United States Department of Justice.
Thomas issued a lengthy statement this week regarding Mount Vernon’s fiscal future, which is facing cuts to education and the loss of property tax deductions due to the federal tax overhaul.
According to Thomas, “members of the City Council and City Comptroller (Maureen Walker), on their way out the door after recent election losses, want to paint a misleading portrait, when what is occurring is that they are kicking the can down the road, leaving the rest of us with the tab to clean up the mess.”
“In my first mayoral budget, for January 2017, I proposed a zero percent tax increase,” Thomas noted. “This year, we proposed a realistic budget that unfortunately presents a 4.85 percent increase, for the simple yet necessary reason that the federal and state governments are threatening to fine Mount Vernon over the unacceptable state of our sewer system, which has been failing for decades.
“Of that proposed 4.85 budget percent increase, 4 percent — more than 80 percent of the total increase — is to pay fines we are expected to owe the federal government in short order.”
Thomas said that the Department of Justice has confirmed that they will be suing Mount Vernon and levying a “significant monetary penalty” for repeated violations of the Clean Water Act over the past 14 years.
"Anticipated fines could amount to $225,000 per day, or nearly $1.6 million a week. This is the ugly penalty for political dysfunction and malfeasance. This does not include the cost to make repairs, which are estimated at $60 million over a 10-year period."
"I am working through this holiday season to continue to collaborate with the City Council and Comptroller Maureen Walker to help them understand how important it is for us to get this budget right," Thomas stated. "We need to pass the cable contract before deregulation and the loss of net neutrality allows telecoms to jack up the monthly price while throttling services down.
"We must increase staffing so the technology investments in the Department of Public Works, Buildings, Police, and Fire accomplish their goals of improving efficiency and strengthening services. We must be prepared to handle these environmental mandates and provide you with the Clean Climate Future we all deserve."
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