MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – When Mayor Ernie Davis asked who supported the 2013 proposed budget, everyone in the room said no.
Residents filled the Mount Vernon City Council Chambers and spilled out into the hallway at City Hall on Thursday night for a public hearing to protest a 9.8 percent tax increase in the proposed budget. Resident Dolores Mack said she is sick and tired of high taxes in the city and noted that many senior citizens are on fixed incomes and cannot afford to pay that much.
"The average person takes their children outside of Mount Vernon for activities," Mack said. "You can't just use the homeowners whenever you need money. Do some more homework and make cuts."
Resident Angela Fontanez, a retiree, said that when she moved to Mount Vernon 37 years ago, she paid $3,000 annually in taxes. Now, Fontanez said, she pays close to $20,000 per year.
"People keep tripping on my front sidewalk, which is broken," Fontanez said. "It took three years and that's the only thing I've ever seen fixed. When you continuously take from the backs of the taxpayers, there will be a massive exodus."
Resident Samuel Rivers said the city needs to find innovative ways to cut the budget, adding that cuts to the Fire Department and Public Library are short-term solutions to long-term problems. Resident Winston Melbourne, who is retired, said the tax increases in the city have become unbearable.
"We need to cut costs wherever we can," Melbourne said. "The bottom line is people in Mount Vernon are suffering. We need to get rid of unnecessary spending."
Resident Karen Johnson said she is angry and frustrated with the proposed tax increase. Johnson said that if the state can see the necessity of a 2 percent tax cap, so should Mount Vernon.
"This is not about the mayor or the City Council," Johnson said. "It's about us the taxpayers. When we see that 80 percent of our budget is going to salaries and benefits, something is wrong with the picture."
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