MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The City Council is looking at a proposal from commercial Realtor Frank DeLeonardis on ways to raise more revenue in an effort to cover the costs of employee health-care and retirement benefits in Mount Vernon's 2013 municipal budget.
The City Council voted 4-1 on Jan. 2 to approve a $93 million budget with a 6.15 percent tax increase. Nearly 80 percent of the budget is for staffing and associated costs, including benefits, Mayor Ernie Davis said during a public hearing.
DeLeonardis, in a letter to the City Council, suggested hiring more enforcement officers to find building, health and parking violations in the city. By doing this, Mount Vernon could raise an additional $3 million, DeLeonardis said.
“At the same time, it will bring order to this city,” he said. “Double-parked vehicles on Gramatan and Fourth Avenues is very common. Turnover of metered spaces is almost non-existent, as the people working in the adjoining stores park their vehicles for the day and regularly add quarters.”
The city recently hired an ordinance officer for more enforcement because the rules are not followed, Councilwoman Karen Watts-Yehudah said. Still, the council doesn’t direct the activities of the department commissioner, Watts-Yehudah said.
“We will be working closely with her to see her log and what she has been doing,” she said. “We want to see the city step up to the plate and make it cleaner. We’ve had conversations on numerous occasions, and it’s a constant issue that work that should be done is not followed through.”
Sales tax is another area where the city could do stricter enforcement, DeLeonardis said. The Department of Finance should provide more assistance to the state, which should result in more revenue being reported, he said.
“In addition, we must take a close look at the work performed by each of our city employees,” DeLeonardis said. “In some cases, positions might be eliminated as the work is not being done efficiently. Perhaps an outside consultant may be needed to examine the tasks performed by our workers.”
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