MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Hoping to reduce the city’s operating budget, City Council member Richard Thomas proposed a five-year project to fix the city’s sidewalks.
Thomas suggested the project during a discussion at a City Council meeting Tuesday night. The council discussed ways to save money in the 2013 proposed budget by Mayor Ernie Davis which calls for a 9.8 percent tax levy increase. Thomas said that instead of repairing sidewalks as they break, the city should set forth a five-year plan to fix as many of them as it could beginning with the highest-density areas first.
“We could renovate the entire city and cut a lot out of day-to-day operating expenses,” Thomas said. “The state is looking to do large projects following Superstorm Sandy. How come we can’t think big? How can a Realtor sell a house without answering how the area around it will get fixed? We have an attractive inventory of homes that are undervalued. With this plan, it’s an incentive to buy homes here.”
Public Works Commissioner Curtis Woods said that the project would be tricky since Mount Vernon has nearly 100 miles of roadways and 200 miles of sidewalks. Woods said the city would need more than five years for a project this large.
Council member Karen Watts-Yehudah said that she agrees with Thomas’ idea in theory but that there always needs to be money set aside for repairs. Still, Watts-Yehudah said, the city would more than likely have to go to a public referendum on the project, since it would cost more than $750,000.
“We’d have to wait for November for it anyway, when the voting machines are in town,” Watts-Yehudah said. “That would be another year. I don’t see our citizenry voting for a substantial bond like this one if it came forward.”
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