Mount Vernon Fire Department, city comptroller blame each other over firefighter shortage

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There's a new battle brewing in Mount Vernon, this time over the hiring of new firefighters.

Fire officials and the city comptroller's office are blaming each other for the department being short-staffed.

Kim Roberts Odindo, the chief of operations, said about a dozen firefighters are on sick leave and an additional 11 potential firefighters have not been able to be hired because of disputes with the comptroller's office.

"We do allow people that don't live in the city to take the exam, but naturally, as is the case within any other municipality, they're always going to hire from their city or their residential list first," Odindo explained.

He said City Comptroller Deborah Reyndolds has accused them of not being fair.

"A relative of the comptroller that was on an out-of-town list. We were accused by the comptroller of not allowing this person to sit in for an interview," Odindo said.

He said no hiring can be done until the comptroller's office confirms the new hires will be paid.

"If the citizens of the city is at the interest of all city employees, the city workers, then that wouldn't be the case,” Odindo said when asked if funds were being held back because Ms. Reynold's relative was not hired.

"I don't even know anything about firefighters. People are asking me, but I haven't received any documentation for anyone," Reynolds said when News 12 asked about the issue Thursday.

Whatever the case, Odindo said the manpower shortage is impacting their ability to protect the community, as well as the city's finances because firefighters are forced to rack up overtime.

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