|Comptroller Maureen Walker|
Sources have told Mount Vernon Exposed that a subpoena is expected to be served on Comptroller Maureen Walker within the next 24 hours. The subpoena is to be signed by City Council President Yuhanna Edwards. According to sources, the subpoena is seeking public documents that the Comptroller’s officer is refusing to hand over to the City Council so they can make decisions to adopt the annual estimate.
Mount Vernon is still healing from a bitter Mayoral election that left the city divided. The candidates that ran for Mayor was; Mayor Ernie, Comptroller Maureen Walker, City Council President Yuhanna Edwards, and former Mayor Clinton Young. The favorite to win the Democratic primary was Maureen Walker, but then former Mayor Ernie Davis narrowly defeated Walker by a little over 100 votes.
Today the infighting continues in City Hall and the residents are victims of the ambitious, higher office seeking elected officials. Many in Mount Vernon view Maureen Walker as the “financial watchdog”, but critics of Walker view her as an obstructionist to progress in the City of Mount Vernon. Several taxpayers have slammed the Comptroller in recent weeks to Mount Vernon Exposed saying she has not stepped up for taxpayers and the citizens of Mount Vernon and virtually remained silent on matters of great public interest and even accused the veteran Comptroller of engaging in retaliatory politics to further her political agenda.
This is the second year in a row that the annual budget will be adopted after January 1st. Mount Vernon Exposed was in attendance at the City Council meeting last week when a third reading was done of an ordinance authorizing the City of Mount Vernon to override the state mandated 2% tax cap. Two prior reading of the legislation seeking to override the tax cap failed to win approval. Some legal experts say that after two attempts the City must stay within the 2% tax cap and cannot have any further votes or readings on the tax cap matter. Other political insiders are saying the City Council is waiting until Marcus Griffith is sworn in to have another vote on passing a budget exceeding the state mandated 2% tax cap.
Councilman Thomas compared adopting a budget without thoroughly examining financial data in possession of the Comptroller, to purchasing a house without first obtaining a home inspection. Does current technology allow the Comptroller’s office to comply with Councilman Thomas’ request? It would be troubling to find out that the City of Mount Vernon does in fact posses the technology to share financial data in the requested medium and the Comptroller is purposely withholding information for political purposes. Taxpayers cannot afford the petty games and infighting anymore. Taxes are souring, foreclosures are rising, and our infrastructure in crumbling right before our eyes. Low income, tax abated projects, which will destroy Mt Vernon’s tax base, will be built all around Mt Vernon.
Last week during the City Council meeting, Councilman Richard Thomas appeared frustrated with the budget process and informed the public of his many unsuccessful attempts to get basic, public information from the Comptroller’s office in Excel format. Thomas stated that the data received by the City Council from the Comptroller’s office is on black and white paper and not in electronic format. Many times data is denied to the Council Thomas said and the Comptroller deems this public information “proprietary”.
In a statement to Mount Vernon Exposed Thomas said “The City of Mount Vernon’s financial books have been closed for far too long resulting in taxpayers paying among the highest taxes in the State of New York. The time has come to open the books to begin an honest dialogue about how to reduce the crushing tax burden and finally grow our local economy.”
To be continued…
Next issue…. Analog or Digital? Is lack of technology in the Comptroller’s office putting the City of Mount Vernon’s financial health at risk?