MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon residents will have the chance to give their input on the proposed 2013 municipal budget on Thursday, Dec. 6.
Mayor Ernie Davis's budget contains a 9.8 percent tax hike. Though New York State imposed a 2 percent tax cap, the City Council voted 3-2 to override it. Council President Roberta Apuzzo and Council members J. Yuhanna Edwards and Richard Thomas voted for the override not because they would approve the budget in its current form but to “move the process along.” Without the approval, the public hearing could not have been set.
Thomas said more public input is needed because the mayor’s proposed tax hike is too high. Thomas said that while he was a state employee he helped design the tax cap and, moving forward, would like to honor it.
“We need a plan on how to get the best value out of what we are spending,” Thomas said. “Taxes are high and institutions like Mount Vernon Hospital are failing. We need an economic solution and I hope we have a dialogue and find a way to move forward.”
Getting the budget under 2 percent will be tough unless drastic cuts are made. Most of the approximately $95 million in spending is for salaries and benefits for municipal employees. Edwards said he has asked several city workers to take a pay cut to ease the burden on taxpayers.
Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds said the city will collapse under the proposed budget, and added that residents need to yell and scream to have their voices heard. Reynolds said municipal employees, all of whom currently don’t pay into their pensions and healthcare, should start contributing something.
“Nobody wants to purchase homes here when the streets are falling apart,” Reynolds said. “After years of demise, let’s make the necessary changes. We need money in the bank to safeguard the city from abuse.”
The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.
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