MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - As i nternal strife continues to run rampant in City Hall over the purchase of a luxury SUV and reported funding the school district missed out on , Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas is calling on city officials to modernize the way officials handle money.
The school district missed out on thousands of dollars because a check for more than $4.5 million in school taxes sat on Thomas’ desk while he and Comptroller Maureen Walker continue to go back-and-forth over a $70,000 vehicle purchase, according to a lohud report .
Thomas and Walker have been at odds after a check for an SUV from the city bounced, prompting the mayor to seek a temporary restraining order and the comptroller to claim that Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Spiezio “illegally and fraudulently removed the check from (Thomas') office and attempted to use it, not to purchase a police vehicle, but for a personal luxury SUV.”
Thomas denied that his office withheld payment from the school district, calling it “ridiculous.” He also called on the city to more effectively and efficiently utilize technology so this type of situation does not arise again. Walker could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.
“Our quality control process regarding checks has been clear for months,” he said. “We review all checks sent to our office and evaluate them to ensure taxpayer monies are spent in a clear and accountable manner.”
“In the world of PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, direct deposit, electronic transfer of funds, the fact that a modern city is trapped in medieval tactics, using paper checks is absurd.”
Walker responded by saying Thomas is "confused" about how money operations are handled in Mount Vernon.
"The mayor is clearly confused as to the financial operations of the City of Mount Vernon. His contention that the City of Mount Vernon does not currently use direct deposit and electronic transfers is simply false," she said. "It is a fact that more than 80 percent our City employees including the mayor receive their pay by direct deposit. In addition, wire transfers and electronic payments are done daily by my office.
"Just as the Federal government offers IRS refunds in the form of paper checks in addition to a direct deposit option, we too make paper checks available to our employees who have declined to utilize direct deposit."
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