MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon officials did not pass a 2013 budget Friday, but Mayor Ernie Davis assured residents that all essential services would remain in place.
With no budget aproved, Councilman J. Yuhanna Edwards said that spending by the city would be placed on hold until a budget is adopted.
Davis said that a 6.7 percent tax-rate hike would go into effect because the proposed $93 million budget before the City Council had been approved by the Board of Estimates and Contracts.
The proposal increases spending by $5 million over last year, mostly to cover salaries and pension costs.
But some City Council members say that should not be the case unless the council approves it..
Councilman Richard Thomas said that instead that the 2012 budget be re-adopted at a zero percent tax increase.
“This city is on the verge of bankruptcy, and if this recklessness continues we will be facing higher taxes in the years to come,” Thomas said. “This city cannot continue to overstate our revenues because if the monies are not met this city will find itself in deeper debt.”
Thomas and Councilwoman Deborah Reynolds have publicly stated that they will not vote to approve the mayor's proposed budget. Reynolds said that since a public hearing on Dec. 21, there hasn’t been another meeting set up to reduce the tax hike.
“The council members did not want to make the necessary changes that would have provided the relief residents needed to sustain their quality of life,” Reynolds said.
Davis' original budget proposal called for a 9.8 percent tax-rate hike, but that was whittled down to 6.7 percent with cuts to the library and tax refunds and a proposal to borrow $2.5 million.
Edwards said that expenses were cut across city departments to decrease the tax-rate hike, though he said that the City Council would probably still not adopt it.
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