Squabbling and finger-pointing mark Mt. Vernon budget meeting

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MOUNT VERNON -

A meeting Friday on Mount Vernon's budget began with squabbling and finger-pointing between Mayor Richard Thomas and members of the City Council - and that's also how it ended.

Video posted to Facebook showed the bickering. Council members motioned to adjourn the meeting and some even walked out, after they say Thomas presented a 2019 budget that included higher salaries for his staff, false revenues and several glaring errors.

"We were blindsided by those high false revenues, by the millions of dollars, and we just couldn't accept it," says City Council member Marcus Griffith.

Griffith and Councilman Andre Wallace tell News 12 that they've asked to meet with the mayor this weekend to work on the budget -- which should have been completed last year. They were back at City Hall on Saturday.

But Mayor Thomas was not inside City Hall and was unavailable to speak with News 12. His office sent out a release Saturday accusing Wallace and City Comptroller Deborah Reynolds of turning their backs on the city.

Commissioner of Management Services Brett Erasmus spoke with News 12 on the mayor's behalf, saying, "I think the budget the mayor put forward at 1.5 percent is a fair budget. I think we've addressed the needs of the city, and I think the City Council is very close to agreeing with us."

City Council members Griffith and Wallace say they're prepared to work with the comptroller to put together their own 2019 budget this Monday. If enough City Council members approve, the budget can pass without the mayor's support.

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