Drastic cuts could be coming to one of Westchester’s largest cities as the Mayor butts heads with the City Comptroller.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and the City Council recently held a joint press conference regarding Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and her “lack of transparency, accountability, and professionalism,” that has left the city at a financial crossroads.
According to Patterson-Howard, as the city and state continue combating the COVID-19 crisis, Mount Vernon requires Reynolds to release more than $12 million, or austerity measures may be put in place, including a 25 percent pay cut across all agencies, or a 10 percent tax increase for homeowners.
“Through her negligence and lack of transparency, Comptroller Reynolds has hampered the progress of Mount Vernon and exposed our residents to tremendous risk, Patterson-Howard said. “With the very real threat of an impending COVID-19 second wave, we can’t afford another moment of her political machinations.”
Patterson Howard said that Reynolds has been abusing power for more than two years, first by sealing off the financial and purchasing system from to elected officials with an illegal firewall in her office, and she allegedly has “operated as a rogue agency within City Hall administration.”
Reynolds could not be reached for comment on Monday, Nov. 23.
“Like the Mayor, the City Council has had difficulty getting financial information from the Comptroller to move the City forward,” City Council President Marcus Griffith added.
“This is a critical issue. We passed legislation to compel Comptroller Reynolds to release financial data, so far she has not complied,” he added. “Her disdain for the law is hurting the people of Mount Vernon and making it nearly impossible to both handle our current challenges and plan for the city’s future.”
The City Council and Patterson-Howard alleged that Reynolds has:
- Failed to accept tax payments from residents for months;
- Refused to allow external auditors access to perform testing to complete the 2016 audit, impacting the city’s bond rating;
- Failed to provide financial reports to city officials for 30 months;
- Failed to process transfer taxes, prompting some companies to threaten to stop operating in Mount Vernon;
- Failed to adhere to new legislation passed by the City Council;
- Held up $2.3 million over an unpaid $370,000 bill earmarked for paving;
- Turned away hundreds of thousands of dollars from revenue generating departments;
- Did not comply with federal contract requirements in violation of requirements from the Department of Justice;
- Blocked the hiring of 11 firefighters last year because a family friend was not chosen for the force.
“The Law Department has tried to work with the Comptroller’s office, but her refusal to cooperate with us has injured the city financially, Brian Johnson, Mount Vernon Corporation Counsel said. “The circular nature of her department, in which emails, letters, invoices are not processed timely is causing a serious financial burden. Furthermore, we have been unable to reconcile #$2.4 million in legal bills that appear to be on the city’s books.”
Patterson Howard went on to note that “Mount Vernon is fighting back against her unacceptable behavior,” vowing to call on Attorney General Letitia James and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to intervene.
This is a developing story. Check Daily Voice for updates.
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