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$4.5M Mt. Vernon Budget Surplus Raises Red Flag For Councilman

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Councilman Richard Thomas is questioning an audit by O’Connor Davies LLP that found Mount Vernon to have a $4.5 million surplus in the $95 million budget.

Thomas said the integrity of the study is in question because the firm has been auditing the city for more than 10 years and never found a surplus before. Thomas also questioned the timing of the surplus announcement. He said it is “convenient” for City Comptroller Maureen Walker to have a surplus in the 2012-2013 budget because she is up for re-election in 2013.

“In April I voted against the audit,” Thomas said. “In my opinion it doesn’t pass the smell test. Yonkers, the Metro Transit Authority and Westchester County are all facing deficits but for some reason Mount Vernon isn’t. Mount Vernon doesn’t have large economic development like Ridge Hill or Cross County, but for some reason these economic anchors still have a deficit. It doesn’t seem right.”

Thomas said that, the way he see it, the city actually has a deficit, adding that a state program to push back pension payments to city workers won’t expire for a few years.

“The way I read it, our local economy has tax revenue coming in but not at the growth rate that we should be seeing,” Thomas said.

Still, not every City Council Member is as cynical about the surplus as Thomas. Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards said he will need more time to review the findings of the audit before commenting on it. City Council Finance Chair Deborah Reynolds said she is pleased that the surplus was found.

“I’m glad our financial status has improved,” Reynolds said. “I will continue to work hard for the residents on the upcoming budget. The residents of Mount Vernon deserve lower taxes.”

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