'A perfect storm.' - Mount Vernon mayor says layoffs or furloughs may be needed
The city of Mount Vernon is strapped for cash, and the mayor says she is being forced to resort to dire measures to keep the city afloat.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard says the city is not making ends meet as she finalized the already late 2021 budget.
"It is a perfect storm," she says.
And because of that, she's forced to make one of two tough choices: lay off 60 workers, or her own personal choice, furlough the entire workforce starting in March.
"It will be a 15-day furlough of all staff from my office, all the way down to our front-line staff," she says.
The mayor is blaming the financial crisis on the pandemic, saying revenues are down and they can't count on money from the state.
Residents say they fear furloughs could mean a loss of services they rely on, such as trash pickup and police and firefighters.
This sentiment is shared by the firefighters union head, Kevin Holt, who a released a statement to News 12 saying in part, "Laying off Firefighters would mean we can't fight fires without adequate manpower. We, the UFFA need answers to why, the City claims it has insufficient funds after budgeting for these positions."
The mayor hopes to have the budget finalized in weeks, and she is counting on cooperation from the unions because without their consent furloughs are off the table- meaning layoffs are the only option.