MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - A war of words between Mount Vernon Comptroller Maureen Walker and Mayor Ernie Davis erupted at a budget hearing last night over numbers presented to the public.
Davis suggested $2.7 million worth of cuts to the budget, which would include employees taking a week off without pay to save $500,000. Davis also proposed municipal employees contribute to their health care, which he said would save an additional $500,000.
Walker disputed the numbers. She said that employees taking the week without pay would only save $350,000 while the city would be “lucky” if they were to get $275,000 in health-care contributions from employees.
The proposed budget calls for a 9.8 percent tax-rate hike for property owners. The approximately $99 million proposed budget would spend $6 million more than last year’s adopted budget, with three-quarters of it going to salaries and benefits for city employees and elected officials. Davis said that this equates to a $318 increase for the average taxpayer, but Walker said it would really be a $378 increase.
“The city continues to bond and borrow and it has to understand that the money has to be repaid,” Walker said. “There are a lot of inaccuracies I want to correct. I cannot allow numbers to be fudged when they are not true."
Davis said that his job is to tell the public to the best of his ability what the city is facing, adding that it is not beneficial to the process to scream, but to make suggestions.
“We have to grow up,” Davis said. “You can walk away unimpressed, but we are facing conditions that are serious. It costs more to provide the city services people are accustomed to.
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