Judge rejects emergency injunction to halt Mount Vernon water rate hikes

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MOUNT VERNON -

Members of the Mount Vernon City Council who are suing the mayor and Water Department over increases to water rates had a setback in court Monday.

Supreme Court Judge Susan Cacace shot down an attempt by Mount Vernon City Councilman Andre Wallace to immediately stop the water rates in the city from increasing.

He sought an emergency injunction against the city's Water Department after it increased rates by 13 percent over the summer. Wallace believes that officials on the Board of Water Supply raised the fees under false pretenses and are using the extra money to pay for other things out of its jurisdiction.

“They are playing games with the old water act, and that's not going to work. You’re talking about a water act from 1911 and trying to use that as the basis of what you did,” he says.

Though denying Wallace’s request, the judge did allow Wallace’s lawsuit to move forward.  Attorneys for the Water Department – citing that century-old water act - argue the Board of Water Supply was well-within its rights to raise the water rates, and insisted they raised the rates to pay for new pipes and fire hydrants.

In recent months, the city's Water Department has been mired in controversy. News 12 has learned that the Attorney General's Office has opened a criminal probe of the department, although so far no charges have been filed.

Council members are hoping an investigation will shed light on the department.

The city attorney office released a statement saying, "We are pleased with judge's decision to deny any kind of injunction. We are confident when this case is concluded the actions of the Water Department will be vindicated."
    
News 12 reached out to  City Hall about the court ruling and has not received a response.

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