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City Council, Mount Vernon mayor battle over water pollution blamePosted: Updated:
The city of Mount Vernon has been ordered by the federal government to stop polluting its water or face millions in fines.
Mayor Richard Thomas has blamed the City Council for not fixing the problem, and City Council has blamed the mayor.
In an unusual move, the mayor is asking the judge in this case to sort out who is to blame and to hold them accountable.
In a lawsuit filed against the city last June, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking a court order to get the city to finally comply with the Clean Water Act.
The lawsuit says the city’s leaky sewer system is polluting the Bronx and Hutchinson rivers with raw sewage. It’s the city’s responsibility to create and enforce a program to prevent this from happening. Such a program would have helped discover the breakdowns that led to this water pollution.
Thomas has set aside money in his 2019 budget proposal to hire 18 people to comply with the mandate. But the budget calls for a $100 property tax increase for the average homeowner, which some city officials call irresponsible.
Some council members say they have already provided funding to get the job done, but that the mayor has been negligent in his duties.
The next court date for this case is Dec. 3.