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Mount Vernon Council Debates Timing Of Legislation

MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Council members Richard Thomas and Deborah Reynolds sparred Wednesday over declaring four buildings on the south side on Mount Vernon unsafe, with Thomas saying that an emergency needs to be declared right away and Reynolds arguing that the owners of the buildings should have been notified before the legislation was put to a vote.

The Mount Vernon City Council voted 4-1 on Wednesday, with Reynolds as the only dissenter except on one property where she abstained from the vote, to declare an emergency for unsafe building conditions . Reynolds said the city’s buildings department never gave the owners of the property paperwork before declaring an emergency, which could potentially lead to demolition of the existing structures. Reynolds said that the move was “politically motivated” by Thomas.

“There are numerous buildings throughout Mount Vernon that need to be taken down but we don’t have the money allocated,” Reynolds said. “There was never any dialogue between the entire council and the commissioners. Councilman Thomas and (J. Yuhanna) Edwards did that on their own.”

Thomas said that his actions on this topic were not “politically motivated” adding that Reynolds previously voted for legislation to allow City Comptroller Maureen Walker to pay money on a budget that went over its limit.

“This issue is about an unsafe situation,” Thomas said. “It’s not about money. We can’t place a number sign on somebody’s life.”

Reynolds agreed with Thomas that this issue is about safety, not money, but she stuck to her point that the owners of the houses should have been notified in writing before the city declared properties unsafe.

“Going ahead and approving these resolutions without serving paperwork first is incorrect and it may become a burden for the taxpayers,” Reynolds said. “They definitely say that they should be notified when the city council goes ahead and does something like this.”

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