MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - Still in his first year on the job, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has presented his inaugural city budget to the Board of Estimates that he says will help the city “move forward under the tax cap.” .
Last week, Thomas presented a $114 million budget that includes funding to improve infrastructure, “human capital,” and both the police and fire departments. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Thomas will host a Budget Town Hall Meeting at City Hall, where the public will have the opportunity to discuss the budget and ask any questions they may have about the plan.
The spending plan comes in under the “tax cap,” with a tax levy increase of .48 percent, lower than the cap limit of .83 percent. Thomas noted that it also makes Mount Vernon eligible for a New York State Property Tax Rebate for the first time.
“People are tired of potholes in the road; they are tired of broken streetlights, we know they want a stronger, more robust level of services from City Hall,” he added. “Best of all, our budget comes in under the tax cap positioning homeowners to receive a tax rebate of $500 per household.”
The budget vows that there will be no service cuts or layoffs, and represents a $10.5 million increase from last year’s spending plan. If approved, the proposal calls for increased funding to the police and fire departments and sweeping improvement to city roadways.
Lee Kyriacou, a world-renowned expert on municipal budgets reviewed the proposed budget and praised the mayor for “taking advantage of low interest rates and responsibly tackling multiple infrastructure needs.
“The mayor’s budget stays under the tax cap, restores needed public safety and other services, puts idle tax dollars to work and makes a down payment on much needed infrastructure improvement,” he said. “The incremental revenue assumptions are sound while the additional expenses are prioritized.”
According to Thomas, if approved, the budget would increase taxes for homeowners approximately $40 each. The City Council and City Comptroller Maureen Walker are now reviewing the proposal, which he has asked them to approve by early December, before the holiday season.
“Every year, the city of Mount Vernon has overtaxed its people and increased the funds in its coffers,” he said. “The city’s savings account has increased while taxpayers have been forced to cut costs and pinch pennies.
“It’s a new day in Mount Vernon. We are presenting a budget that uses existing resources wisely and doesn’t spend foolishly. We are investing in infrastructure and are investing in human capital.”