2019 budget passed in Mount Vernon, mayor cries foul

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MOUNT VERNON -

Mount Vernon city leaders passed a working 2019 budget Tuesday after months of debate and the ongoing threat of running out of money.

Mayor Richard Thomas is crying foul, even calling the spending plan illegal.

Thomas, Comptroller Deborah Reynolds and City Council President Andre Wallace were at odds over whose budget will move forward - nearly two months after it was due.

Thomas presented his $114 million budget that included a 1.95 percent tax rate increase.  Wallace and Reynolds quickly voted it down, and passed their own $111 million alternative budget that increased the tax rate by 1.93 percent.

“It’s fiscally responsible,” says Wallace. “We took out all of the raises, it’s no longer top-heavy."

Thomas abstained from the voting, and later through his spokesman attacked the Wallace-Reynolds budget as reckless.  He accused the comptroller and City Council president of breaking the law by unfunding positions, laying off a half-dozen workers and miscalculating the real cost of the tax rate increase, which he believes is closer to 2.6 percent.

The public will get a chance to weigh in on the budget next week. It will then go to the City Council to finalize the process so that tax bills can be sent out, two months later than expected. Last year's budget contained a zero percent tax rate increase, so homeowners paid the same amount they paid in 2017.

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