MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon City Council voted 3-2 to override the 2 percent tax cap imposed by the state in the wake of Mayor Ernie Davis’ proposed budget that suggests a 9.8 percent tax levy increase for property owners.
Council President Roberta Apuzzo, along with Council members J. Yuhanna Edwards and Richard Thomas, said they voted for the measure to “move the process along,” adding that none of the three would vote to pass a budget with this high a tax increase.
“We will work very diligently to get a number we can all be happy with,” Apuzzo said.
Edwards said the City Council just received the budget last Friday, adding that Mount Vernon is at the same “fiscal cliff” as everyone else in the country. Edwards said a lot of the raises in the budget to departments such as police and fire were previously agreed upon during better economic times.
“We have members of this council asking municipal workers to take pay cuts,” Edwards said. “What we passed tonight was to push the process along. If we had sat back and not voted for it we wouldn’t be able to do what we do as a council.”
Council members Deborah Reynolds and Karen Watts-Yehudah each voted no on overriding the tax cap. Reynolds said she would like to make cuts to the budget, adding that taxpayers in the city are burdened while municipal employees are still collecting their salaries and benefits.
“There will have to be a lot of cuts for me to say yes to any budget,” Watts-Yehudah said. “I don’t see how it's possible without them to get my vote.”
The City Council said it will continue to meet to chop the tax increase down to a smaller number. A public hearing will be held before a budget is adopted.
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