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Mount Vernon Mayor Vetoes Passed 2019 Budget

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas announcing the beginning of demolition of the grandstands at Memorial Field.
Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas announcing the beginning of demolition of the grandstands at Memorial Field. Photo Credit: Contributed

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas announced that he has vetoed a budget for 2019 that was passed earlier in the day.

On Friday morning, after weeks of debate and disdain, the Mount Vernon City Council passed a $112 million budget for 2019 that represents a rise in city taxes of nearly 2 percent. Thomas announced that he is vetoing the "illegal" 2019 budget in an email sent at approximately 5 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

With a 4 to 1 vote, the City Council approved the budget, which will see the average taxpayer spending approximately $77 more this year. The passage comes after weeks of contention between Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and the City Council over the city’s finances.

According to a lohud report, Councilwoman Janice Duarte was the one to vote against the budget, calling it “fundamentally flawed.” After abstaining from the vote, Thomas could not be immediately reached for comment late on Friday afternoon after his proposed budget was eschewed.

Thomas stated that the approved budget "neglects serious, legally mandated obligations like the remediation of Memorial Field, DPW yard, broken bridges and the repairs of our ancient sewers."

The mayor specifically cited the removal of $3 million payments to the state retirement system for employees; the elimination of six "critical positions, which is a violation of a past court order against eliminating positions;" and the creation of a $50,000 position for Reynolds' grandchild's father.

“As Judge Loehr stated, no budget should be adopted without money for Memorial Field, the DPW yard, opening the MTA’s closed bridges and fixing our broken sewers,” Thomas said. “I think it’s a shame that the City Council consistently votes against the quality of life for the citizens of Mount Vernon.”

In an email earlier on Friday, Thomas wrote that Judge Gerald Loehr warned the Mount Vernon City Council about failing to fund the restoration of Memorial Field in the budget.

“It is the court’s recommendation that the budget not be enacted unless or until it includes dollars set aside for the Memorial Field project which includes some funding identified for remediation, at least some significant number will be necessary,” Judge Loehr said. “Because to pass a budget without that is stating to the citizens that their access to the facility is being delayed, if not prevented.”

In a letter to Legislator Lyndon Williams earlier this week, Thomas said, “I not only opposed approving the Reynolds/Wallace budget, I vetoed their illegal budget. It did not contain funding for Memorial Field or for the repairs of our faltering sewers that are the subject of a binding agreement with the federal government, among other issues.”

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