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9_18_14

Mt. Vernon's 19.0% Sneak Attack Tax Hike Will Cost Average Homeowner An Additional $540 for FY 2014

By HEZI ARIS

Mayor, Comptroller Received $6.6 Million Transfer to Close Secret FY 2013 Budget Gaps
MT. VERNON, NY -- In a three to one vote, the Mt. Vernon City Council rolled over to pass a 19% total tax hike to cover excessive spending for fiscal year 2013 on September12, 2014. If collected in 2014, this ill-advised move is estimated to cost the average homeowner an additional $540, or approximately $45 extra per month for 12 months

"The logic is simple, if you spend money you don't have you run a deficit. We know Mt. Vernon cannot print money, so the bureaucracy works to quietly pass a backdoor tax on the public," said Councilman Richard Thomas. "No matter what, $6.6 million in reckless spending will add an additional burden on the tax base who are unprepared and cannot afford another increase in taxes," he advised. 

The numbers break down as follows for 2014:

 

 

 

Est. Tax Rate

$   394.56

 

Actual Tax Rate

$   349.63

 

Est. Increase

$     44.93

 extra per month

Est. Increase

$  539.13 

per year

"People can barely make ends meet. For the city to expose taxpayers to a $540 unplanned expense could mean the difference between having food on the table, gas in the car, heat for the winter, electricity, rent or not purchasing needed medicine for the month," said Councilman Thomas. "This latest episode underscores the need for Mt. Vernon's to open its books for inspection. This latest sneak attack represents fiscal mismanagement at its worst," he added.

The Council held a special meeting on Thursday, September 11, at 5:45 PM and passed legislation requested by Comptroller Maureen Walker and Mayor Ernest Davis to transfer $6,600,430 in additional monies to cover expenditures beyond the FY 2013 budget limit.

In 2013, the City of Mt. Vernon budgeted $96,395,026.00 which included a 6.15% tax hike. Based on the transfer request, Mt. Vernon spent $102,995,456.00 in 2013, resulting in the city spending $6,600,430.00 more than it was permitted. The Comptroller’s and Mayor’s transfer request did not contain an explanation why they blew through the budget or provide source information verifying where the additional $6.6 million is being transferred from.
“Mt. Vernon lost millions due to mismanagement in the past, and millions more continue to vanish without accountability or transparency. Mt. Vernon needs an intervention from Albany or Washington to get its fiscal house in order,” Councilman Thomas concluded.

Summary information is provided below.
Highlights from the attached transfer request which resulted in a 19% total tax hike for 2013 includes:

  1. The City’s appropriated $96,395,000 for 2013, and spent $102,301,605.48.
  2. The $6.6 million transfer is without explanation on its source or how much it will cost the city to pay back, equating to a 12.85% tax hike on top of the previously passed 6.15% making a total 19% tax hike for 2013.
  3. The average homeowner will pay an extra $540 per year, or roughly $45 per month to make up for the City's secret cost.
  4. Tax refunds amounted to $3,000,000 in payments for over-taxing property owners.
  5. The Fire Department was originally allocated 13,405,877 but the administration subtracted a total $429,506.81 from its budget, cannibalizing an already understaffed department.
  6. The document contains little to no information on the amount of money spent on Memorial Field or 12 other pet projects overseen by the administration.
  7. Link to FY 2014 adopted City budget to corroborate numbers.

 

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